The Tower Report - through Day 8
Hello. This is Bob Tower reporting from Kerrville. Many of you probably don't know me as I have only been involved in the folk scene since January 99. Before then, the least main stream artist I knew was John Prine, who Idiscovered by accident when he lead off for Suzanne Vega several years ago at Sunrise. But then I went on a cruise in January and met Rod Kennedy. Dalis Allen, Michael Terry and others. It was a great cruise with performing artists Sara Hickman, Trout Fishing in America, Buddy Mondlock and Carol Elliot. The day after the cruise I joined Dalis at the SFFF and she introduced me to the fresh baked Brian and others. So I went to several SF folk events and now here I am, home in Kerrville.
I'm writing this from my tent at Camp Coho which is on the north east boundary of the Quiet Valley Ranch. My back 'window' looks out at a meadowwith a sea of grass and the occasional deer. My side window is 10 feet from the main tarp where there are frequently numerous artists folking, if they are not around the campfire on the other side of the tarp. I am one of the few non-artists that live at this camp and I feel sort of like a voyeur, although everybody is very friendly. It makes me appreciate more the treats that Brian likes to distribute. It's only natural to want to throw the artists a few crumbs since they are enriching the bread of our lives. (Yikes! Who wrote that?)
I'd like to detail all of the other wonderful things that are happening around here, but there is just so much going on and much of it is just a beautiful blur in my mind. I've already spent more on CDs then I did on my airfare and the festival is less than half over. I'm hoping that when I return to a 'normal' life and play these CDs some of my memories will come into focus. Here are some of the highlights that I do remember:
A 23 year old Frank Norman (?) at the ballad tree singing "Postcard From Scotland". I love his youthful enthusiasm and great tempo changes. This self-described boy is having a lot of fun even though he's spending many hours working the mixmaster at the festival entrance. Tempo changes is something that Amy Carol Webb also does well and I feel like it makes the music more accessible to the musically ignorant listener like me who may not be able to catch all of the subtleties that other musicians can.
The Austin Lounge Lizards on main stage: "Life is hard, but life is hardest when you're dumb".
Small Potatoes on main stage: "Waltz of the Wallflowers". I wish I couldn't relate to this song so well.
Saturday morning yoga on the main stage.
Steve Seskin's "Don't
Laugh at Me". I love this song but it makes me so sad. I recently
had one of my 7 year old friends tell me he wished I had short hair. He
couldn't reconcile the fact that he has so much fun with me but I looked
different from everybody else he knows. His parents are close friends
of mine and are generally very good people, but our culture is
The Four Bitchin' Babes were great fun. They seemed to be deliberately dressed up in a glamour fashion with Debbie Smith even wearing a little purse to hold her guitar picks. The contrast with the audiences' attire helped to strengthen the already strong visual part of their performance.
Kevin So's very energetic main stage performance started Saturday evening off with a bang. "There is a white man in the middle, a black man left and a yellow man right. Though they are each strong individuals, they are stronger side by side." I went searching for more music early Monday (?) morning after the Coho campfire had burned down and found Kevin and Stephanie, with her strong bluesy voice, belting them out by the store. I ended up going to Crows Nest with them and we didn't leave till 6:30 am.
Amy Carol Webb's new folk performance. Even though I don't know Amy very well personally, I felt a major sense of pride watching this great South Florida performer on the main stage. She's been getting an above average response around the campfires, and average around here is pretty good.
Witnessing the scope of Susan's enjoyment definitely increased my enjoyment. I'll be thinking sweet thoughts of you, Dorothy, when I enter those chocolate moments.
Lorin Rowan Trio on main stage. The cello player, Doug Harman, had such cool facial expressions that I had a lot of trouble paying attention to what Lorin was singing. But I do remember the line "I've got one foot in the door and the other in my mouth" from the song "Saving Grace". This song has got to be causing some female hearts to melt.
Seeing Carla Ulbrich perform at Camp Coho thursday night. She's been at the songwriter's school and didn't make it to the campfires before Thursday. She had to leave today for a gig in Albuquerque. She told me that she felt cheeped knowing that we had been here all week at Coho. Me too.
There is a lot of wonderful music produced by the Camp Coho branch of the Kerrville family, including that of Jack Hardy, Rob Wolf (?) and Michael McNevin. But I've always been partial to female vocalists, so I'm really enjoying the Dallas based group called Chatterbox. They are Annie Benjamin, Beth Cahill, Lisa Markley and Michelle Feldman. They play a variety of instruments and have beautiful harmonies. I especially like watching Annie Benjamin play the flute; she is just having so much damn fun. For me, the most beautiful single moment of this festival so far is when Beth is playing her mandolin, finishes singing a line with a long vocal high note and Annie comes in softly with her flute. It's so pretty.
Peter Yarrow on main stage
was just one magical moment after another. This old man has such a youthful
and nurturing spirit. You could frequently see him hugging and encouraging
the other artists before and after they went on stage. And his soft teaching
of the lyrics to the audience was really sweet. The cumulative effect
of the weekend hit me during his last song, "This land is my land..."
(although, I'm not even sure that was the song). Most people were clapping
there hands or singing along but all I could do
Below is the list of music that I have bought so far. These artists affected me in one way or another, although I don't even remember all of their performances at the moment.
This email was written in spurts during the gentle mid-week sweetness. Butit's Friday now and the weekend intensity is getting ready to start again.Time to get ready for sleep deprivation and emotion overload.
It was a beautiful night last night with the stars exceptionally bright,and Mars seemed red with envy at the beauty of Venus's light.