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.
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Mack Bailey at Baldwin's Station.- Part 3 of 3. This is about what happened between Mack's first and second set. To recap, at the end of the first set, Mack sang two John Denver songs. .
When Mack is singing Wandering Soul, I wonder what does that sound like? Oh it sounds a bit like my favorite John Denver record (yes, record) Seasons of the Heart. I wore this record out playing it over and over. I sigh.
Standing in the lobby minutes later a friend sitting with us wishes Mack would sing Perhaps Love and of course it is from Seasons of the Heart. Later we ask Mack, and the answer is probably not this time since there is not time to relearn it now. Still just thinking about Seasons of the Heart puts me right into that place in my life where I had so many questions and issues. Those songs had so much to say about going with the flow of the ying/yan of life and trusting love even in the midst of all that happens between people.
Then several of us are talking about John Denver and Joyce Sica amazes me. I can't repeat her words as well as she says them. It is something about how she never understood meditation or Zen stuff until she heard a John Denver song and the song put her into the kind of altered meditative place she had only heard people talk about before. Wow. I go back to ask her to repeat what she said. She says a lot more but not in the same words.
Some of the more Joyce says is that when her mother died someone gave her John Denver's record, Windsong and that record helped her through that period. John Denver's songs have always opened her to a spiritual place and now that he is gone, he is like an angel, still a spiritual presence and wisdom presence. Because of John Denver's music, Joyce found Dick Cerri and the whole folk music scene, opened her life to years of connections and worked with so many wonderful musicians. She wishes she could have told John in person what his music has meant and
means in her life.
I never thought coming here that Mack would sing a "new" "found" song like Wandering Soul and that I would revisit in an instant a period in my life when I put Seasons of the Heart on the record player over and over. I never thought I would spend intermission asking Joyce to tell me more and then learning in amazement about how the record Windsong changed her life.
So anyone thinking of attending a Mack Bailey show this is fair warning. You too may be snapped back to another time and place, to who you were and who you where with when you heard certain John Denver songs. And have these songs changed you?
But Joyce and I are talking too long. Time for the next set.
Before the second set begins are announcements. Joyce tells us that after having survived 2 brain surgeries last year, she just tripped and fell in her living room and must now have surgery on the break in her left arm. And last Friday night at her other venue, Cellar Stage, the mega-rain we've been having sent a flood into the "cellar", the basement/theater room in the church. Att the last minute concert volunteers, attendees and performers moved all equipment etc upstairs where the last concert of the 03-04 season started a bit late but when on. Life has its drama. Music helps get us through.
PS: Joyce, I just have to tell you that at Best Buys today, after buying the computer sale Item I came in for, I browsed the discount CD rack and picked up John Denver's Windsong for $5.99. I admit that after seeing Wandering Soul on Mack's new CD Wed, I bought it. (It was clear driving home, this was a good decision and not just for that one song.) And I ordered the Seasons of the Heart CD from http://www.half.com.
while writing this blog. Let's not call this CD excess. Let's call this new CD trio - emotional life "flood protection".
Mack Bailey's 2nd Set on 6-18-03 at Baldwin's Station.
Am I Ready? by Chris Nole, who produced Mack Bailey's new album. Mack says if Chris Nole ever comes to this area we should be sure to see him.
Mack remarks - this is going to be a mellow set. He tells us he was sitting in a recording studio just playing with a new tune on the piano and a friend came in and heard it and together they wrote this sort of downbeat song. Time to Time - "a thought makes me realize that all my days pass by without you"
Last Picture Show "I'm just a hopeless romantic at his last picture show"
For One Night "Could I fall in love with your for one night?"
Rhythm and the Rhyme - about the circle of change
Give Me Just a Little More Time - Mack wrote this years ago with Buddy Renfro
Today while Blossoms still cling to the vine
Mack's daughter has only a few days of school left. At homework time, Mack reads a math word problem to her and her eyes glaze over...is he speaking a foreign language to her?
Through Your Eyes
Eagles and Horses
Don't look Down
It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
A full night of great music. There is more to say about what happened between Mack's first and second sets. I will cover that in a future post.