It was a snowy spring day and a perfect evening for a night inside the coffeehouse. This is the first show that started out with a little daylight coming in the Labyrinth windows, making for an entirely different ambience to begin the show.
We opened with a version of David Bromberg’s “Danger Man“, capably backed up by my daughter Bess and Connie Deming.
Connie’s sets were absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen her lots of times in Rochester, NY and am driven to say that the Woodsongs venue and situation suited her perfectly. I have never heard her voice clearer and used with more effortless range. When I asked her what her main instrument is, she said, “my voice”. She underestimates her own ability on the guitar; she actually plays it with creative ability and nice finesse, sometimes hitting the body of the guitar with her hand or fist for added percussion. As well, she is a fine pianist, although she was all guitar on this show. This is the first time I have ever actually been on the stage in this kind of proximity to her when she played and she exudes a sphere of engagement that gets more palpable the closer you get to her. She is obviously an extravert, finding herself energized in the presence of others. Connie looks at the audience and fellow performers while playing, inviting people in to her emotional world. This is clearly what music is about for Connie. She feels things with immediate strength and is not given to rational analysis. Allowing oneself to become temporarily swept along with the chaos and beauty of Connie’s music is a brave act in itself, one that proves worthwhile in the end.
Also, we had our first Woodsongs medical casuality this night. Connie hurt her knee on the last song of her set to such an extent that she couldn’t fully put her weight on it after the show. But, turning down an offer to stop the show and regroup, Connie bravely played through the finale as if she had two good knees.
Reese Campbell was a lively, curious, and concisely intelligent interview. I knew his songs were going to be worthy additions to the Jamestown Woodsongs catalogue of tunes, but his razor sharp observations and Twain-esque approach to pointing out American incongruities and tragedies were, at times, disarming. He combines on-the-mark indignation with intelligent clarifications of important issues. With a mere musical phrase or off-the-cuff comment in conversation, Reese can be like getting hit on the head with a soft shoe. If open to it, the listener can get quick enlightenment into the soulless greed of hydrofracking, the absurdity of legal Uzi’s, and the undeniable wackiness of some aspects of distance learning. Presenting it with humor and as a master of satire, Reese ventures into territory only inhabited by the most capable and courageous purveyors of this art – people like Jonathan Swift, Randy Newman, and Erskine Caldwell. I must say also, he summed up the “college girlfriend” thing pretty nicely for me. It comes to that, doesn’t it?
The closer was “Stand by Me” written by King, Stoller, and Lieber. This is such a fitting song for Woodsongs because paying tribute to Stoller and Lieber recognizes the valuable contributions they made in the early days of rock and roll, having authored such classics as “Hound Dog” and “Kansas City”. Connie took the lead as Reese played his accordian, Bess played percussion, and Your Humble Narrator followed along on guitar and wailed a bit in support of Connie’s delightful vocal interpretation. Reese’s accordian solo was a work of art and the texture he provided throughout this song made it an entity heretofore inconceivable. Connie’s spirited beauty carried the song to unexpected heights. There is no doubt, the closing tune is becoming one of my favorite parts of the show. It is truly jumping off the high board. There is no telling what will happen and on this night, as you will hear on the pod cast, the audience agreed that it all came together as a fitting climax to another great Woodsongs evening.