Friday, August 15, 2003
Pierce Pettis at Baldwin’s Station on August 12, 2003

A couple, middle age (our age ), tell us they drove from Pennsylvania to Virginia to hear Pierce Pettis on Saturday, 8-9-03 at the Jammin Java, and then drove down to Maryland to hear him again tonight!. They are at our table. Baldwin’s Station has large tables so we often sit with people we don’t know. The other couple at this table are also Pierce Pettis fans. They are such an adorable pair of young people - he in a blue shirt and maroon bow tie, and she in a flowery summer dress with her hair pinned up by something colorful. Both these couples saw Pierce Pettis and David Wilcox, along with us and a huge number of other people in the large auditorium at Grace Church in Timonium Md last November.

The young couple tells us for “this kind of music” they only see David Wilcox and Pierce Pettis. I tell them there are many more people they make like, and recommend Peter Mayer, who is performing (and co-writing) with David Wilcox (out west somewhere). But Peter will be at the House in the Woods concert nearby, on September 13. I tell them that I sold my Bruce Springsteen ticket to a very eminent singer-songwriter who lives locally, so that I can go hear Peter.

As usual, a couple of trains go by during dinner, and the other couples are curious about this; this is their first time at this venue.

Kate, the Uptown Music volunteer who introduces Pierce Pettis, tells Pierce we may have more trains, so he should have a train song ready. She also mentions we have some local celebrities in the audience. One is a staffer from Dirty Linen, the music magazine, and the other is the singer-songwriter Carey Creed that I saw last Friday night! How good to see her again!

Pierce opens with a new favorite of mine, a Mark Heard song, Another Day in Limbo. A few weeks ago I ordered the Mark Heard 6 cassette pack for $10 from Paste Music ( and I have been listening in awe to the this incredible performer. The Paste site says he was 41 when he died and “His 1992 death from heart attack stands as one of the great losses that popular music has suffered”. I found out about Mark Heard from the Bruce Cockburn email list, Humans. And it has been my experience that many Bruce Cockburn fans I know are also Pierce Pettis fans, though the two couples I sit with are not too familiar with Mark Heard, and have never heard of Bruce Cockburn.

Upon Neutral Ground

Georgia Moon

Then Pierce pulls out his beautiful red 7 string guitar, and does You Move Me. Yes!, he does!

Granddaddy Blew the Whistle – an instrumental written for his granddad Leon who drove trains. I usually am sort of neutral about instrumentals, but Pierce can really make a guitar sing. I can hear the train whistle in the song. I am enchanted, by this song and by all his playing. The evening is much too short.

A new song, Undeserved Favor – “the law of averages should have stopped me long ago”

She Walked Away Just Like Jim Brown – a loss of love song, written from a guy’s point of view. To enhance male interest it includes mention of a football player and auto parts.

Come on Down to the Crying Ground – Pierce tells us he co-wrote this with Tom Kimmel, and as they both grew up in Alabama, they decided to write this with a bluesy Muscle Shoals sound.
BREAK – someone tells me Pierce Pettis has 3 children and one on the way. I buy an album with a child’s picture on the cover, his child I think. And I wonder about this artist - wiry, self-deprecating humor, is this an attempt to downplay pure genius! Does this man know how much his songs mean to people? It must be hard to take it all in.

A Showman’s Life by Jesse Winchester

Another wonderful Mark Heard Song – Rise from the Ruins

With the 7 string red guitar again, Pierce explains he co-wrote this with Dan Cooper who grew up in Missouri, state of many famous outlaws in the past. This song is about an “outlaw” who is a traveling musician, sort of like them My Life of Crime – I love this song, and the rebel, and life-affirming feel to it. We all break other people's rules for us in order to make our lives our own.

My Song of Songs – Pierce explains this romantic song is one his wife likes.

A new song about Leonard Da Vinci. I love this! “A problem for his enemies, a puzzle for his friends”. How many people write a song about this genius? (Ok, Da Vinci’s Notebook took this name, but they are clever in a different way.)

Another new song – Alabama 1959 – mixed memories “all those ghosts”

A Tom Kimmel song – If I Fell from Grace With You

And then finally Pierce sings my request – State of Grace. I heard new things in this song each time I hear it. Maybe since I just read the chapters on Walt Whitman in the book, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property by Lewis Hyde, I think of Pierce’s list of various things “I am rich and poor, black and white.. etc” as similar to poet Walt Whitman’s imagination. Whitman broke new ground in writing poems (he called songs) where he embodied “everyone” – male and female, the common person. Now Pierce Pettis has captured that feeling of being in community with all of us, and pulls us into his “state of grace” so eloquently.

A lullaby written with David Wilcox – “I am more tired than you” – every parent can relate to song from the very first phrase.

Down in the Flood – an old Bob Dylan song – played with harmonica. This song rocks.

God Believes in You – another request, and introduced as reverse theology.

New song – Black Sheep Boy

We’ll Meet Again

This man can play, sing and write, as this enthusiastic crowd well knows. The evening is not long enough, and there are so many artfully sung covers. The covers get a great crowd response. However, we are all left longing for more of Pierce’s songs. We don’t hear “Legacy” or many other audience requests. Next time Pierce…

I now envy the couple who heard Pierce Pettis Saturday at the Jammin Java. I was glad to see Pat Humphries that night, and wouldn’t change that decision, but what difficult choices these are.

Thursday, August 14, 2003
August 9m 2003 -Joanne Juskus opening for Pat Humphries and Sandy O. at House in the Woods in Adamstown, MD (just south of Frederick)

Lights illumine the path from the house to the barn area. Two dogs wander in and out among all the people. House in the Woods is a rustic house concert, a concert in a barn type structure on a working farm. The barn holds 100 in a combination of folding chairs and white plastic lawn chairs.

We have been advised to bring a flashlight, and bug spray (or some natural repellant.). My co-worker who comes uses a natural product, vanilla, to repel bugs which means she smells better than I do. When the sun goes down, there are spotlights on the singers on a raised platform at the front, and little green Christmas tree-lights in the back, and outside a lovely full moon.

The cicada's loud songs complement the singers, who luckily have a sound system to compete. The performers joke - are they tuning to the cicadas? Are they are the same beat?

The break takes us back to a lovely wooden house with a large deck, and a kitchen table full of desserts many people contribute to the event.

The hosts have a toddler. Unlike most "house concerts" this show is baby and child friendly and friends and relatives pass the children from lap to lap or take them for walks outside if they get restless. The weather cooperates and on this muggy wet August day, the predicted storm does not materialize, but a cool breeze does, and soon I add pants and a jacket to my scant daytime clothing.

Joanne Juskus opens on keyboard accompanied by Williard Morris on Violin. This is not the guy or gal with a guitar kind of music I usually hear. She has intriguing lyrics and sometimes hypnotic, other worldly rhythms. This is my second time seeing her. Her set list includes:

Rebel - Written right after the Berlin Wall came down. The lyrics address the question - what will you do now with all this energy?

Meet You There - I was hoping she would do this Rumi inspired song. I so love Rumi's poetry. I love that Joanne has created a song inspired by it.

Never Be the Same - The words tumble out, the song moves fast mimicking the panic it reflects. This relationship is changing me - I'll never be the same!

Happy Medium - about tangled relationships.

Birthday - what a lovely upbeat friendship song.

I Am - Inspired by a dream of a native American teacher this has a lovely other wordly quality.

Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow

My sister alerted me to the NPR interview on May 22, 2002 and I listened to it online soon after. I have been so looking forward to seeing Pat Humphries ever since.

She and Sandy O. do not disappoint. Like Marika Partridge of NPR says, Pat's song Swimming to the Other Side, and I would say all her music, just make you feel good to hear and to sing along with. It is no wonder that after Marika Partridge enthusiastic endorcement, Pat's CD was the number one CD sold on Amazon for 3 days in a row. This is the same week that Eminem's new CD was released! Does Clearwater know what people want to hear or not? NOT! Their set includes the following soulful, inspiring, hopeful songs. (Sometimes I guess at titles and use a first line or a line which may or may not be the title).

Bound for Freedom
Sandy O's song - Take the seed and plant it here - Give it Love
People Love - written for "revenge" in response to someone who asked what to tell her children about Pat being a lesbian.
If I Give Your Name - Incredible song about an incredible story, and is this story being told? There were so many undocumented aliens working in the World Trade Center's restaurant, and how many others in other capacities. And how many families did not come forward for fear of having papers taken and being deported?
Swimming to the Other Side - people are so hungry for hopeful songs.
Code Pink
Peace Salaam Shalom - At first after 9/11 Pat could not sleep. Not until these 3 words came. These words are the key to a response, and Pat and Sandy have spent their time since 9/11 traveling and being with people around these words.
Democracy Now - on 10/11, the same day (coincidentally?) that the bombing of Afghanistan started, there was a peace march in NYC with 10,000 people.

After the break
Silent Springs - This year is the 40th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carlson's book by this title. This song is about Rachel and about industry who make money from pollution and its results.
Hear My Voice - a song written for a conference at the Refugee's Women's Network which gives leadership training for women in resettlement camps all over the world.
We are One - Pat saw the 2 heads of North and South Korea meet on TV 3 years ago, and wrote this song as a hope for Korean unity. This song got them invited to a luncheon in DC in June 03, and then an invitation to Korea later in June.
Never Turning Back - some people who sing this say it is a traditional song, but Pat wrote this "traditional" song, a classic as so many of her songs are, in 1984.

I am hungry to hear those folks again, and we are promised more opportunities and soon. They will be at the Saturday, 8-30-03 Country Roads Festival in West Virginia (close by - just past Harpers Ferry) , and at the Sunday, 9/7/03 Takoma Park Folk Festival.

I plan to be here for the next two concerts at House in the Woods too before they close for the winter. (This is a March to October series only). The schedule is:

September 13 Peter Mayer with Rich and Audrey opening (half the seats are already reserved, these are going fast) I am one of those with a reservation. I sold my 9/13 Bruce Springsteen ticket to a very eminent local sing-songwriter so that I could hear (again) another eminent sing-songwriter, Peter Mayer. The House in the Woods audience is so enthusiastic about Peter, there will be a special chemistry here that night and although I saw Peter in July, I do not want to miss this October night.

October 4 Lou and Peter Berryman with Lori Kelley and Cletus Kennelly opening.


Focus Inn Music at the Potter's House, August 8, 2003 with Franklin Taggart and Carey Creed and a cameo by Donal Leace

This venue is a church. The Potter's House was founded by members of a liberal Christian social action oriented church in Washington DC, and its coffee house has existed in this Columbia Road spot for 43 years. I remember coming as a college student once in the late 60's. And again as an adult, on a field trip from a workshop at Wellspring (a related retreat center).

The mission churches of Church of the Savior (COS) created non-government funded low income housing units, a clinic for those who have no health care coverage, several homeless shelters and other social services within blocks of this coffeehouse. Columbia Md developer, James Rouse, was an active supporter. The various COS churches embody the theme of the new Kennedy's Song Stand which I heard recently at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. They stand for something in a way that stands for positive social change and with (not against) people of other creeds.

I have gone to silent retreats at their Protestant silent/meditation center Dayspring in the past. And I recently spent a Sunday morning with a part of COS, the Seekers Community Church, which is in D.C. now but is renovating a building to move to soon in Takoma Park Maryland. COS is not my religious home, but I admire what they do and what they "Stand" for.

I don't put in the time in community service that the COS people do. But I remember one Saturday, years ago, joining I think some folks from another part of this group, Manna, for a workday. My husband, and daughter and I gutted walls in an old building nearby in preparation for conversion to apartments (2 year) housing for homeless families. I don't remember how old the house was, but I found a newspaper fragment from the 1930's stuck behind something we removed.

So sitting in the Potter's House memories and feelings of the many COS associations I have flood over me. The Potter's House Bookstore, full of so many gems, is not open this evening. But the kitchen is open. We park around the corner on 17th street - well lit, and with police cars passing. We know that on 18th street there are many excellent restaurants, but we don't arrive early enough to get there and back in time for the concert. Instead, we order dinner here, and split one of each the items on the menu - salad, hummus appetizer, black beans and rice, and chicken and rice and have an incredible feast of food that tasted "homemade" and rivaled what we would get in any gourmet restaurant. And they serve something I have never heard of before - Cricket Cola, an incredibly wonderful combination of green tea and cola, that comes luckily in both regular and diet. And the diet variety has SPLENDA in it. I highly recommend it. See:

The music here is tasty too. I have been wanting to get to one of the excellent Focus Inn Music concerts all over this area, in venues in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. They keep scheduling performers I want to see. They are adding to the many choices in this area. This is my first Focus show, but not the last.

I have heard good things about FranklinTaggart and Carey Creed, but this is my first time seeing them. This small sample just leaves me eager to see them more and more. They are from the awesome folk community in Takoma Park Maryland, home of so many people I love to see.

And we happen to sit at a table with Donal Leace, a vaguely familiar singer-songwriter. name. Then Carey Creed invites Donal onstage for a song, He sings Rusty which luckily for me it is on the Donal Leace Washington Post MP3 Site, so I get to hear it again and again. But I want to get Donal's schedule. I am sure I am not the only one in the audience wondering, when can I see this talented man again?

FranklinTaggart plays guitar and sings. Carey Creed is singing and on keyboard for most of the evening. His melodies and playing have an old timey style to me. I love his personal contemporary lyrics which grab me where I am. I am a word focused listener, I often get irritated with too much of "just the guitar". But hearing Franklin, I do not resent it when he stops singing and does an extended guitar solo. The melody enhances the mood the words led me to

Carey Creed's voice is pure "songbird", and she creates a spirit and light and beauty with each phrase she sings. They back each other up, singing harmonies on each other's songs.

Everything I hear is great. I particularly like a new song, Franklin calls a sad little number, Wide Open Heart. OK Franklin, the everything is what you make of it is sort of post-modern, but in this song something else emerges - a post- post-modern song. Wow!

And Falling all the Way, the title track from Franklin's 2001 CD, has the words "anything could happen". Although Bruce Cockburn's has a earlier song "Anything Can Happen", the feel of this song is nothing like that one, it is more like the feel from Bruce Cockburn's new album, You've Never Seen Everything. I just think that times inspire more than one great artist. But the feeling that times are dangerous and the fear of "falling all the way" really evokes images and feelings that echo in the Bruce Cockburn's 2003 CD.

Carey Creed's song Buying Something, is another favorite. It is wonderful song about addictive shopping (a modern temptation). It is so catchy she wonders if teens, who love the song, understand the irony in it.

The music is great. There are brand new "favorites". I don't know if Focus Music will continue using the Potter's House. But there many venues and awesome schedules will be full in the fall, and will continue to challenge my ability to choose between so many wonderful people and venues in this area.


A Day in the Woods at Merryweather Post on August 2, 2003

Somehow We're About Nine's schedule was pushed up. We thought they were starting at 3pm, but their side stage show started at 2:35.

As I came in they were singing - If You See William

An exquisite cover of Bruce Springsteen's, 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)Born Again
Money for Floods by Richard Shindell
Another Love Song

This is not enough of this so engaging Trio but there is more to follow. They have another set, later today. It was so much fun seeing them at Falcon Ridge on the main stage and everywhere - seeing them here brings back that Falcon Ridge feeling. And Dar is later today too.

As I walk over to the Main stage to hear Matt Nathanson - he is engaging, singing a lot of relationship songs beginning with one of my favorite's
Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road
His other songs include (and I am guessing at titles)
Maybe I'm YoursI know all this has been said before
A fun cover of Prince's Starfish, Coffee, Maple Syrup and Jam - as a sing-a-long
I can fall alone

Back to We're About Nine on the side stage:
If I Move Like Light
Slow Sliding Funk -
Just One More - Brian reveals this is written from the perspective of an unknown woman named Teresa, who gets a marriage proposal, but all she wants from the relationship does not involve commitment
Weight of the Ocean - This is a peppy little tune about the end of the world - maybe...
Spirit - about truly being seen or truly seeing other people

I love their newer songs. When will the next CD be out?
It is so much fun seeing this trio on-stage at their premier hometown rock venue!

Dar William's set list on main stage:

Party Girl
If I Wrote You
Are You Out There - Teenage years were in Chappaqua NY, present home to the Clintons, but then sort of a hippy place. In the 80's things started to get so serious. And on the radio they were talking about government conspiracies and they taught me to keep alert; made me a little different. This song is for all the late night weird college radio stations I pick up on my travels.
Farewell to the Old me
The End of the Summer
Another Mystery - Dar just met with people from Empower to about talking to kids about depression. It should not be a glamorous thing!
The One Who Knows - dedicated to parents, grandparents, people who work with kids, all the people who made the world magic
As Cool as I Am
After All - Dar spoke touchingly about battling depression. When you emerge from the pit of depression it is like you are a rock-climber, in a special club. Rock-climbers discuss their techniques, and those who have been depressed discuss the "special metal cletes", what they used to get out of the pit. I love this song; it is so real and heartful.
The Christians and the Pagans - dedicated to the U.S. Supreme Court
The Babysitter - Ok this took place before the days of DVD's or VHS or even Beta. To find what was TV on you had to consult a printed newspaper schedule. TheTV screen was in black and white and but that's OK because it was the 70's and the rest of life was in bright colors. The movie mentioned in the song stared Raquel Welsh. Well, she was not so much about being in color as in being in curves…
Keller Williams is the next main stage act. The front row area are all up dancing. He creates a beat then has electronic music echo it. This is about celebration and dancing.

Eddie from Ohio (EFO) are on last. They poll the audience, and it seems like more are from Viiginia than from Maryland, so people coming made a trek to see EFO. They invited the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (FRFF) crowd to come see them here with Dar Williams and We're About Nine. I don't know if any make it from northern states, but I do meet a woman from Virginia who was also at the FRFF. A camper, she says it has been so wet here since she got back she still has not been able to dry out her tent.

Highlights of their set (for me) are an Irish song they sang years ago at Bad Habits in Virginia, and their cover of Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice. Great Day is great too, but not as much fun as it was at Falcon Ridge Gospel Wake Up Call when the Kennedy's and others were singing along, and Da Vinci's Notebook danced/paraded around the stage and DVN member Paul did an onstage flip.

EFO is fun.

Pat Klink and Keller Williams join them onstage for an encore of a popular song years ago that has the words - Take a Load off

Sunday, August 10, 2003
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival July 25 to 27, 2003 in Hillsdale, New York

Clean Like Disneyland But Better

The first thing we see is colorful tents and the green green hill side. The grass stays relatively litter free despite 10,000+ people on Sat night. This is not the Disneyland DaVinci's Notebook sings about, it is the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Volunteers in orange tee shirts, not paid staff, keep the parking orderly, the crowd flow comfortable, and provide for both order and good spirits.

During the day women are nursing infants on the hillside, protecting babies and small children from the sun with umbrellas and tent canopies large and small. Disabled folks park their wheelchairs in special listening areas at the sides of the stages. The hearing impaired sit in front and, with the rest of the audience, enjoy the lovely sign language interpreters. This place welcomes the vulnerable, young, old and in between. . We wonder if we will still come when we are old and frail; maybe for fewer hours per day.

10,000 people on Saturday night, to hear Dar Williams and Arlo Guthrie ( preceded by Tracy Grammar, Eddie from Ohio, and Greg Brown). the mood is friendly and mellow.. And the rich gift of glorious sound is heard all the way up the hill in the camper's tents, and is piped into food and shopping areas down the hill. Performer after performer thanks Klondike Sound for making the sound at this festival the envy of other festivals.

Performers are sometimes audience too. We see Nerissa Nields on the path on Sunday and she tells us the same thing she says onstage I think, that this is a weekend she has been looking forward to all year to connect with friends.. Many sets are groups of performers scheduled to do round robins (one performer after another) but they end out backing each other up seeing harmony on each other songs, adding instrumental backups. I can't hear bands like this at home that include so many of these groups all at once -the Nields, the Kennedy's, Tom Paxton, Tracy Grammer all singing together. The gift of rich sound is very special here.

Sometime after midnight when music ends at the main stage, there are song circles up the hill where main stage performers mix with professional and amateur singer-songwriters share song circles till wee hours. On Sat morning Nancy from Baltimore tells me she stayed up till 5 am at Baltimore's Big Orange Tent (the BOT) and is back down the hill for a 10 am workshop stage performance. On Sunday morning Vance Gilbert is awed by Tracy Grammar's ability to sound so great after leaving the HappyTown songcircle at 3 pm and driving an hour back to her hotel.

From the stage on Sat night Dar says hello to the Camp Dar which has a song circle in her honor. I hear about the song circles every year, but since I have trouble staying awake for the main stage performance, we have not yet gone. We wonder, could we sleep till noon and come to FR in the afternoon only?. Go back to our motel for an afternoon nap (and park in the far parking across the street when we come back?) What could we miss given that we are not willing to forego sleep for 3 days?

We are not campers; can we be comfortable outdoors for so many hours? When we leave our motel Fri morning at 8:30 am I realize we won't be back until after midnight.

Falcon Ridge Logistics

We do pack both clothes and equipment for ranges of temperatures. It is cool Thurs and Fri nights (but only in the 50's, not like the first year we came. Despite the fact that the temperature went down to the 30's, the first year we were hear, but we stayed up and shivered through the last main stage person, Dar Williams.) This year, Sat night it is very temperate and we don't need the jacket or even slacks we brought, and mercifully Dar is on a little bit earlier.

Daytimes, Fri and Sat it is hot under the 80+ degree unrelenting sun, and on these days we sit under a beach canopy, alternating between beach chairs and camping seats, with rain umbrellas as backup sun protection. It is fun to see the assortment of interesting canopies people bring and erect in the "canopy" area behind the main seating. Sunday is mercifully cloudy and mild, and the couple of short rain showers are pure godsend, except for our fear that they may include the predicted lightening storms. However, the festival is totally graced and there is no lightening or heavy storm.

I could worry about food, water and toilets (the essential ins and outs we take for granted at home), but there is no problem here. Lots of water is essential during the days of hot sun, and I see people filling water bottles for free from the public hoses. But I bring and also buy bottled water and some frozen smoothies. There seem to be more soda options this year too. My husband loves the iced coffee. The lines are never too long (although maybe we time meals well), and the portapots I visit never run out of toilet papers, and incredible outdoor water hand wash things don't run out of water or soap this year (amazing!) - so I don't need the extra kleenix and handwipes I packed.

The days go smoothly, and no, I can't get enough of this music. I get more and more mellow, and am less and less worried about anything. People are for the most part in a pleasant holiday mood, and mostly wait patiently where lines do happen.

The shopping and food tent area is well lit, and the public walkways in and out of the festival. But it is important in the evening is to carry a flashlight, or walk close to people who do have one, because there are no other lights on the grassy hill. Although the stars are bright this year, I don't notice much of a moon, and there is the issue of going down the hill for food and/or a pee, and having to find your seating companions again. It will be dark, with no daytime colors and landmarks. This happens on Sat night to one of our very favorite performers, Eliot Bronson. He finds us in the dark but can't see where his friends are. We shine our flashlight, so he can rejoin them some 12 feet down the hill. My strategy works - I ask my body to cool it for ins and outs for a couple of hours and it cooperates.

Some Few Festival Highlights

This year was about falling in love with the Nields. My appreciation has been growing and growing. This year I couldn't see them enough at the festival! I am still playing and replaying their CD's. The Nield's main stage set end with an all perfomers present joining them in the sweetest version of GoodNight Irene I have ever heard.

Dar Williams continues to be a solid favorite. I will see her again with Eddie from Ohio at Merryweather Post in Columbia Md on Sat.

And as ever, the Vance Gilbert song-critiquing workshop, and Vance on workshop and main stage, John Gorka, Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky and so many others. Da Vinci's Notebook are funny as always, and this year I join the conga line.

I love Iris DeMent songs. I am so thrilled that Greg Brown sungs of his wife's songs:
When My Morning Comes Around (from The Way I Should CD) as part of the Fri night song swap, and These Hills (from her Infamous Angel CD) - as part of his Sat night mainstage set. Greg Brown is a fair songwriter himself - Everything with you is Sex is quite a song.

It was great seeing We're About Nine on the main stage, twice on the workshop stage, and all over the grounds. Brian Gundersdorf, your intro to Writing Again was the best ever. And several times between acts on the workshop stage I heard your CD playing, and hear people talking about it.

Another highlight was hearing the Kennedy's new song Stand several times - these folk rockers can really do an anthem.

Holly Near recommended several times during the weekend that when we visit friends we bring a CD of this kind of singer-songwriter music as a gift in lieu of flowers or a bottle of wine. Holly Near is great and I want to see more of her. I loved her song - Send in a Thousand Grandmothers.

I find is missed a excellent Richard Shindell's set on the mainstage. I was at the workshop stage at that time. There were so many difficult choices between stages.

Dave Carter Music Was Very present

It is great seeing Tracy Grammer the several times she appears and seeing her even more backing up other performers, hearing Dave Carter's songs also sung by other performers, and continuing to remember the tribute to Dave Carter last year.

Thurs night - the Kennedy's said as they drove into the FRFF they saw a great blue heron fly over the festival site and seeing it they said, hello Dave Carter. The next day a presenter on the main stage repeated this story. Maura Kennedy sings "When I Go" and Pete contributes an exquisite guitar solo. I have goose bumps hearing her sing this.

Fri night Mainstage - Railroad Earth does an incredible version of When I Go - Tracy Grammer joins them on stage.

Sat in the Study War no more workshop Tracy Grammer's accompanist, Donnie Wright leads off in singing Gentle Arms of Eden with Tracy accompanying on violin. We all sing along on the chorus.

Sat night on the mainstage, Tracy tells us she drove 3000 miles from Portland to just say thank you to us. Her set list includes:
Ordinary Town
Crocodile Man - in a workshop stage Tracy tells us she is from Florida, which is where Crocodiles come from. Still it is not easy to explain these lyrics.
Love the Magician
Gentle Arms of Eden - in a workshop stage Tracy tells us this came to Dave in a dream (which I had heard before). It was an interesting discussion the day before with an agnostic. (Sort of like an answer to the agnostic?).
I Go Like the Raven
When I Go -Tracy remarks that this song has been performed each day so far (Thurs and Friday on this stage) and she would keep with the tradition of playing it each day. And she invites everyone to join Camp Happytown, with blue prayer flags up the hill, where the song circles is dedicated to Dave Carter songs. She also said she doesn't know how she sang on the main stage last year, she was one woman in shock.
The Mountain
Gentle Soldier of my Soul - Tracy says that when Dave wrote this for me to sing, he probably never knew how badly I would need this song.

In the Sunday in the Tall Tales workshop - Vance Gilbert does priceless cover of Gentle Arms of Eden. He really slows it down, and adds his own emphasis. And at Vance's request, Barry Marshall from the Storycrafters adds a drum beat. Tracy Grammer tries to add supporting vocals, but has to look at Vance to follow his new rhythm for this song. It is so great! Vance MUST record this.

From mainstage on Sunday Lucy Kaplansky sings Cowboy Singer.

In this workshop, Tracy talks about The Power and the Glory (from Drum Hat Buddha) - This was written after Dave Carter went to Nashville, and was told you have good songs, but they have too many words. Luckily he decided that didn't matter. Then he met Emmy Lou Harris once when she was very tired. She told him she had his CD, she hadn't listened to it yet but it was on her living room table, and Dave was so happy.

Tracy sings several unrecorded Dave Carter songs;
Lord of the Buffalo - on the workshop stage Sat on the Songwriting Process. They were in Wyoming and Dave realized there are no buffalo in Wyoming. They were thinking about the buffalo dying out and one was last As this song came, they wept together. "There's a home for the restless soul, says the last buffalo".
And in her Sat night main set - Shadows of Evangeline This song may combine thoughts of his evangelist mother and a sense of voodoo. It is about the mythical story of Evangeline and the swamps of Louisiana.
Hey Ho - about the selling of war to children
Hard to Make It In This World Today -a tired prostitute at a bus stop (Vance calls Tracy a great guitar player in her own right after this song)

Acoustic Live In NYC and Beyond present a number of performers on in front of their booth on the mid-way - between other venders, and just up the row from the food tents. On Sunday we see Eliot Bronson there and Erik Balkey (backed up by We're About Nine) on his first song, God's Poet Now, in the memory of Dave Carter. God's Poet Now is the title song of Erik's new CD, God's Poet Now, which we listen to repeatedly on the drive home. This CD was our best FRFF purchase


This year there are more political comments than ever before - sometimes sharp/pointed, sometimes funny, sometimes hopeful, sometimes bitter. Is the country more divided than ever? The comments I hear are anti-war, pro social programs, and upset with the current administration, and fearful of erosion of civil liberties at home. I hear a wake up call for complacent liberals.

Examples: On the workshop stage, Kate McDonald sing a lovely song "Mercy" - words like boy king, drops his toys on the floor, to hear the news you'd think there's no one here but us. Is it Pete Kennedy who says: We are here to subvert the dominant paradigm? Noting, during the Study War No More Workshop that there is a human peace sign - people are lying on the hill in a peace sign design. Tom Paxton wonders why we wanted to study war in the first place and sings a great new song, Homeland Security (about how they didn't find it in Iraq so now they are investigating his garage). Greg Brown from Iowa sang I want my country back. Richard Shindell's old time ballad sounding song - that has the words: "darkness darkness bind them to me - false the king, false his ways". Dar said - In this next year we'll be challenged to think the people are not in charge, but we are the landscape, we are the light, hold onto that.

There is much more to say about Falcon Ridge and other are posting comments all over fan email lists and on the web. Someone should write a book.

Links to a few Falcon Ridge 2003 pictures:
Eliot Bronson
Fan and Brian Gundersdorf and Antje Duvekot
Eric Schwartz and fan
We're About Nine
Erik Balkey
Christopher Williams

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