Wednesday, June 25, 2003
On Sunday, David and I drive to the Univ of Maryland Baltimore Campus (UMBC) to find The Commons, the student union area, so he will know where to go to hear Eliot Bronson from noon to 1 pm on Tues, 6-23-03. The building is closed, but we can see a purple coffee cup on the glass and the words "Common Grounds". I was here once before and saw Richard and Audrey perform. They were at the bottom with mikes, and several "sound men" were in a back area behind the bleachers. I was early, and at first it was almost just me and the sound people, but others came through and some people bought CD's. (There is no tip jar - the college pays the performers. And they can put their CD's out for sale). I think it was between semesters so there weren't too many people coming through this area. Maybe that is why they moved it!
Which is what I find out, as I enter the building at the"Common Grounds" entrance on Tues. There is no sound system set up, no concert here. Standing there I hear a few chords and follow the music up upstairs to the food court. Across from the pizza stand there is the microphone and Eliot Bronsonis doing a sound check. Lori Kelley is advising Eliot on adjusting the sound. Lori drove 1½ hours from Virginia just to see Eliot's. Of course she had to since it's been 6 months since she saw him, and she won't get to see him Friday since she is going to be at a Focus Inn House concert in Virginia instead. Lori is performing there, and that is where we would be if Eliot Bronson weren't in town.
Behind Eliot is a wall of glass overlooking a courtyard outside. This area is bright and airy and full of people. David finds the music the same way I did, following the chords from the sound check. Other
Eliot Bronson fans come in and we sit together at a long table.
Woolen Socks - Walking past, Margie throws her hands in the air in surprise at seeing Eliot. He is singing so she can only gesture at him. She sits with us and says "Oh my gosh, I didn't even know he was going to be here." She is part of the Baltimore Songwriters Association (BSA) and she has an occasional house concert in Baltimore with a healthy food potluck beforehand. We saw Richard and Audrey there. Another fan comes in. Lori says, "it's a reunion!" (of
Eliot fans). Some students continue their conversations, but Eliot is also attracting an audience of people who stop talking and eating and sit and listen to him.
You Don't See Yourself in These Songs (I am not sure of all the song titles)
Eliot says this song is for me! He knows how I love Bruce Cockburn, and this song is from one of my favorite Bruce Cockburn CD's, The Charity of Night. Eliot's version of Pacing the Cage is very intense, inward, reflective and even melancholic. I think lots of Bruce C. fans would really like Eliot's version too, as I do.
Paul Iwancio joins us. I love to see musicians supporting other musicians. Of course as head of the BSA, Paul displays a special gift for encouraging talent and building a supportive musical community. I am so thrilled that the BSA nurtured Eliot's incredible talent, and is still there still supporting Baltimore songwriters. I get to tell Paul that I saw him and Nita Callihan perform recently on Baltimore Public Television. They are getting out the word on the BSA via TV!
Back in My Old Town - new!
Breathing of the Night
Hey Lao Tzu - people are coming over to buy CD's during the performance! Apparently some can't stay for the whole hour, but must take some music home with them! Paul handles the transactions as Eliot Bronson sings.
A huge group of kids wearing name tags, I guess here for registration, line up near the front of Eliot's stage area. Holding clear plastic bookstore bags they seem into their own experiences of starting school. My husband says, "Were we ever so young"? The line moves quickly and they are gone soon.
Benjamin Franklin - Eliot says this song is named Benjamin Franklin. But the words go "it's going to rain". I need to hear this again. Was I listening closely? This is just a guess - is this about hoping to discover lightening?
A John Seay song (a wonderful BSA performer), Didn't Think I'd Miss You But I Do
We Got A Good Thing
"Hear yourself call yourself from far away" I want this song! I have heard it several times and it always grabs me. Luckily Eliot is working on his 3rd CD now.
Some Jackson Browne song about sitting down by the highway - this song goes on and on and I am intrigued by the complex lyrics. Somehow I missed the whole Jackson Browne thing but apparently Eliot was into him and does a great job with this complex song.
Another cover - Paul Simon's Slip Sliding Away
These covers are nice and this is a student union where it is hard to get people's attention but I want to hear more of Eliot songs. There are so many incredible songs of his we don't hear today.
Only one hour, it has gone so fast and he closes with Cookie Cutter - a great sing along song. Lori is the pizza line getting more food, and she sings along standing in line.
Afterwards, Lori tells us she will be at the Kenndy Center's Mlilennium Stage on July 10. How great Lori, they videotape these shows and you will be archived online forever. As Eliot is. Eliot is the only one we have ever gone to the Millennium Stage to hear. David tells someone it was in Feb. and we can't remember what year, but I check online and it was January 3, 2001.
As I write this post now I am listening to Eliot's Millenium Stage show where he opens (instead of closes) with Cookie Cutter. What a great set list, songs we mostly didn't hear at UMBC. Eliot you just have too many good songs, it is frustrating to hear you sing only for 1 hour! After Cookie Cutter, the others online include:
You and me be our own tree - Eliot's Christmas song
Head of the River - a song about the Bay, and not about the Bay
Tomorrow (Are you sure you are really here? Song about being really here, now. It's called Tomorrow)
In this cafeteria, some people watched and were engaged with the show, others talked moved on. I love seeing Eliot, but I miss the talking between songs that he does in a quieter settings. And there were so many of his songs we didn't hear. Oh well, there is always Friday at the Jammin Java . Though that is a split bill. We all miss the days when Eliot lived in this city, and we could catch a show twice a month or so.
People gather afterward to buy CD's and sign Eliot's mailing list. The sound man appeared genuinely into the music as Eliot played, and I see him signing Eliot's mailing list as I walk out.