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Posts Tagged ‘concerts’

Continuing the theme of collective experiences: I have sorely missed live music during the pandemic. I wasn’t ready to go back to Newport or another festival this year (though I thought about it), but I’ve been spending a few Sunday nights soaking in live music closer to home.

ZUMIX, my new employer, is a nonprofit that offers free and low-cost music lessons, ensembles and other creative opportunities for young people. We also put on a number of community events, including a summer concert series in Piers Park, down the hill from my house. I loved going to these concerts when I moved to Eastie in 2019, and then they were cancelled last summer (like everything). So it’s been a real joy to be back.

Everyone brings lawn chairs and picnic blankets and snacks; the kids run around blowing bubbles and dancing and generally having fun. Several of our ZUMIX students run the sound board, and others provide the opening acts for our local headliners. It’s a fun neighborhood outing and a great way to (finally) be back together in person.

We’ve got a few more concerts left this month and I’m crossing my fingers for good weather – and more chances to wave at (and maybe dance with) my neighbors.

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My husband is a music fanatic. (It’s one of the things that brought us together.) He’s forever discovering new bands, and while he was a good sport about visiting Green Gables with me, he was really excited about the fact that summer in PEI is music-festival season.

With a bit of help from our guidebook (and a bit of Internet research), we snagged tickets to two concerts, which were quite different from one another, but equally amazing.

We drove through a light rain on Friday night to New London, a village down the road from where we were staying. The concert we attended was part of PEI’s annual Festival of Small Halls, which draws musicians from PEI and many other places.

Our concert featured three groups: the Gawler Sisters (who hail from Maine), the wonderfully named Ten Strings and a Goat Skin (local PEI boys), and the Rua Macmillan Trio – a Scottish fiddler accompanied by a guitarist and a drummer.

gawler sisters small halls pei

From the moment the Gawler Sisters (above) stepped on stage (with a dizzying array of instruments between them) to the last note of the encore (played by all three groups on stage together, below), it was a wonderful, mesmerizing night. We tapped our toes and clapped, laughed at some truly awful music-related puns, and tried to pick our jaws up off the floor as the fiddlers’ fingers flew faster and faster. We bought the Gawler Sisters’ album and I’ve been humming the songs ever since.

festival of small halls pei

On Sunday, we headed a bit farther west for a rather different music experience, in the gorgeous and light-filled St. Mary’s Church.

st mary's church indian river pei

The Wailin’ Jennys, whom I discovered in Starbucks (no kidding) a few years ago, were kicking off the Indian River Festival. We had fourth-row seats to watch them sing and play, and it was dazzling.

wailin jennys pei

Soulful lyrics, layered harmonies, string-and-drum witchery. All three women were so warm and lovely that I wanted to be friends with them. And toward the end of the night, they came down from the stage and stood on the steps – the room’s acoustic “sweet spot” – and sang two songs a cappella, including my favorite, “Long Time Traveler.” I could have listened all night long.

More (more!) PEI stories and photos to come.

 

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I made Serenity (and a few other friends) jealous last Friday when I tweeted, “So excited to see The Civil Wars in concert tonight!” I promised a review, so here it is in one word:

Stunning.

In a few more words:

The Berklee Performance Center is a lovely venue, all dark wood paneling and soaring acoustics and rows of comfy seats. (It was a packed house.) The opening act, Milo Greene, was astonishing – five musicians, four of whom sang, and all of whom (except the drummer) played “Chinese fire drill” with their instruments, handing off their guitars to one another and (in one case) sometimes picking up a tambourine. They electrified the place with their energy, and as J said, “I love bands where everybody sings.” We were both wowed and smitten, and we bought their EP after the show. (3 songs for $5. A bargain.)

And then the Civil Wars came out, and we floated away on a tide of gorgeous harmonies.

Sounds a bit dramatic, perhaps, but John Paul White and Joy Williams left us gaping at the sheer, aching beauty of their intertwined voices. They both seemed to intuit the other person’s every move – even their ad-libbing was perfectly in sync. And it was plain they were having so much fun up there – whether they were jamming out on “Barton Hollow” and “From This Valley,” winking at the audience on covers of “Billie Jean” and “Dance Me to the End of Love,” or holding out those notes of love and longing on “Poison & Wine.”

I think the best musicians know how to connect with both the audience and one another – and Joy and John Paul did that perfectly. She took the lead on the between-songs patter, teasing John Paul and flashing her dazzling smile at the audience, and he responded with deadpan comments that had us all howling with laughter. (Side note: he really does bear an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp.)

Even though the theatre was packed, it still felt intimate – “like a big living room,” as Joy said. A big living room full of music from two incredibly talented artists. I could have listened and laughed and clapped all night long.

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Since he was in high school, my husband has deeply loved the music of U2. Whenever we go on road trips, it’s sure to be part of the mix, and it frequently crops up at other times, too. A couple of years ago, for his birthday, I bought him the book U2 By U2, a huge compendium of stories, interviews and photos with Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton. And, on Monday night, in Dallas, I got to help him fulfill a long-held dream: seeing them in concert.

This was my graduation gift to Jeremiah, and even though it meant getting back to Abilene at 3 a.m., it was TOTALLY worth it. He sang along to nearly every song and just grinned the whole way through. I also love U2 – though mine is a more recent fondness – so I sang my heart out to “Beautiful Day” and “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “One” and “Where The Streets Have No Name” (which Bono began by singing “Amazing Grace”). We spotted our friends the Becks, who miraculously were sitting just six sections over from us, and got to chat with them before the concert. (And Jana, bless her, provided me with earplugs.)

Here we are outside “the spaceship,” aka the new Cowboys Stadium:

U2 Oct 2009 006

And here’s the crazy gigantic stage – what Bono called “the spaceship” that travels with them. “You guys [Texans] are space cowboys,” he teased.

U2 Oct 2009 019

We jammed along to “Vertigo” and “With or Without You,” and I very nearly lost it during “Sunday Bloody Sunday” when the screen filled with images of Iran. What a fantastic night. Thanks to U2 for a completely amazing show – and for making my Jeremiah very, very happy.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. See links to more images and stories of love at Karen’s blog.

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