“The concert was amazing. I remember thinking at the time, “This is nothing like my CD. The louds are louder. The softs are softer. Everything’s clearer and richer — and it’s all around me. It’s like I’m swimming in sound . . . like I’m breathing music.”
(Actually, I just made that up. Mostly what I remember thinking during the concert was, ‘AHHH. This is GOOD.’ The rest came later.)
Ever since then, I’ve found myself more and more often preferring even dismally mediocre live music to the very best of the canned stuff.”
I was reminded of these words again yesterday, when we packed the whole family (sans Ken, who had important pastor stuff to do) up in Dad’s Suburban to make the trek an hour south to catch a show at Foundry Hall.
“You’d love this group. It’s called Harpeth Rising. I’d really like to go and take the kids — you too, if you can come.”
— my mom, last week (quote approximate)
What can I say? I have a soft spot for my mother, and my mother has a soft spot for Foundry Hall.
Foundry Hall is this spunky little non-profit venue in quaint downtown South Haven, Michigan. It draws in indie musicians and performers from all over the country — world, even — most of whom can play the pants off any “artist” on the American Top 40 despite the fact that I’ve never heard of them. You probably haven’t either.
Harpeth Rising is one such band.
Nestled somewhere between bluegrass and classical (two of my very favorite things), and twisting in lots of tight two-, three-, and four-part harmonies (yet one more of my very favorite things), these pickin’ and pizzicato-ing phenoms kept me and mine utterly engrossed right up through the intermission and even a little beyond.
(Soon after intermission, the kids all got tired and wiggly. Still . . . no complaints. Two thirds of a concert with almost no fidgeting has got to be some kind of record for us!)
The video below was not filmed at Foundry Hall, but the group did perform this song last night. It sounded a little like this, only more alive. It was (a)live music.
(Like what I did there? I thought so.)
Honey-voiced lead singer Jordana played an instrument that I never quite knew whether to call a “violin” or a “fiddle.” She weaved the two styles together so seamlessly and so masterfully that I’m still not 100% sure she knew, either. Whatever she was playing, it was sublime.
Banjoist Rebecca was . . . awesome. I love me some good banjo-picking, and she was good.
Have I ever mentioned that I once tried to teach myself banjo? Honest to goodness, I did. I mistakenly thought it might be easier to learn than guitar, since it has a narrower neck, and I am a person with smaller-than-average hands. I didn’t get very far (and I do not now list “banjo” anywhere among my musical accomplishments), but the experience did give me a high degree of respect and appreciation for masters of this under-appreciated instrument.
Before last night I wouldn’t probably have thought of the cello as a bluegrass instrument . . . but I would have been wrong. Cellist Maria brought sounds out of that instrument that might well have made Yo-Yo Ma’s jaw drop. Mine certainly did.
Have you ever heard a cellist rock out the base line to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking”? Or witnessed a cello being played with drumsticks? I have . . . now.
And drummer Chris . . . well, let’s just say that my son now wants to be a violinist AND a drummer. Chris was that cool.
Anywho . . .
Thanks to Andru and the rest of the crew at Foundry Hall for hosting a great show.
Thanks to Mom for inviting us to go and to Dad for driving us.
And thanks most of all to Harpeth Rising for the stories, the smiles . . . and the music.
“It was beautiful.”
— my three-year-old, after bedtime prayers earlier tonight