The words “music” and “northern Indiana” appear to be one in the same this summer. As soon as the calendar turned over to announce summer nights, campfires, and fireflies, someone shouted from the heavens, “Get on your mark, get set, go!”
There are two approaches to summer…sit home with the lemonade, feet up and book propped open (and, yes, dreaming does count for reading), or get on your bike and pedal as fast as you can going somewhere or nowhere.
This year the sounds of music fill each evening from the cafes and pubs to the town square and park areas. If, at this moment, you are circling your head wondering who, what, when, where, then you are driving with your windows rolled up and the air conditioning humming instead of music playing. (Lucky for me, my air-conditioning went out years ago and, no, I didn’t bother fixing it.)
I am of the “get on my bike and pedal as fast as you can” camp trying to decide which event to participate in during the evening hours. Sometimes I have four choices of which I must toss a dart up in the air, or rather toss an extra bean seed into the garden to see where I should go. My inboxes show the questions posed by friends and neighbors…where to tonight?
Even though I am a storyteller by trade, I am a musician by longing. I spend hours sitting on my porch banging out tunes on my ukulele with my band partner, Lee. “If we practice long enough, then we will be like THEM.” I boldly spoke up at Chapman’s the other night announcing that I was in a band, and we would like to play for the crowds. The question, “Got a demo?” was asked, and I sadly shook my head and walked back to my table to listen to other groups who clearly have demos.
Alas, I am not disheartened by listening to others. I love all my musician friends, follow them around, and promote their work.
Last Sunday was no different as the first Folk Music Collective (first ever!) presented a concert at the Trine State Park Recreation Area. This was initially the brain child of Stephen Rowe who has relentlessly worked at bringing folk music to our area. Stephen is like me in the fact that he is not a musician, but loves it so much that he is willing to talk about it non-stop. (What? You haven’t met Stephen yet meandering through town with his posters? Just wait…you will.)
Whenever I hang out with Stephen, I hear these familiar words, “Wouldn’t it be great if…” and I know I will be involved in this somehow. He spoke those words to the right person, however, and Jim Weber knew what to do to make this event happen. Jim went right to Pokagon State Park and to the Steuben County Tourism bureau, and bingo, it all came to fruition.
I have to say I was a little nervous on Sunday. But I need not have fretted it out as folks came. They came with chairs, with picnics (yes, the Powers family always knows when to have a good picnic), with water bottles and with a smile knowing it would be a great day. Over 70 folks gathered under the “Wild Turkey Shelter” to hear foot-tapping music for four hours. The event began with John Getz. One of my friends said when she arrived and heard the music, tears began to roll down her face. (Okay, that was Kathy, Stephen’s wife, but nonetheless.) Once in a while I wondered if John even knew we were there as he has a tendency to get lost in his music. After an hour he handed the stage over to Bob Pogue, who played everything from Johnny Cash to John Denver to Bob Dylan. I looked around at the crowd…listening, picnicking, writing, and drawing, running (that would be the kids) but mostly smiling. Jim Weber and his friends from the Jug Huffers ended the afternoon with all sing along folk songs.
He chose “This Land is Your Land” for the final number and invited me and Stephen up to the stage along with park naturalist, Kelsey Pierce, to finish up the afternoon. We sang like there was no tomorrow.
It was the best afternoon.
I have seen Stephen twice since then. Both times he said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if…”
Yes, it not only would be great, it is great!
This blog was written by Lou Ann Homan.