Saturday, June 11, 2011

Finding what you aren't looking for

In a lovely turn of events, I found myself with two tickets to see Alison Krauss at Fraze Pavillion. It's a beautiful venue and I'd see just about anyone there. Summer night under the stars, music, people. It had been a while since I'd been there and was really looking forward to going. My brother, whom I rarely get to see, was going too, so that made it even more of a special night.
   The tickets weren't cheap and the concert was a sell-out, so what to do when, as soon as we leave the house to go, the skies open up and thunder and lightning clap the skies for miles. We sat at the restaurant at dinner, wondering and hoping and trying to talk the weather into changing. The tickets in our hands read 'rain or shine- no umbrellas'. Hmm didn't know that when we left the house with nothing but umbrellas. When the rain stopped, we figured, let's just go. Wet is not the end of the world.
   We found a good parking spot, and sat in our car until the second set of rainclouds passed over. Seems like everyone there was hip to the no umbrella clause but us. Raincoats, parkas, plastic ponchos were all around us. Wet is not the end of the world. As we approached the park, the lines were crazy. Apparently there was some trouble opening the venue or getting people checked through the entrances. We were drenched before we even got to the end of the line, which would take at least a half hour to move through. Ok. Wet is not the end of the world, but it's already feeling kind of ridiculous to be doing what we were doing. We spent good money, so do we stick it out and get our money's worth or go home and sit on our nice dry couch? Hmm.
   We decided to go home and start over. We live minutes away by car, so we thought we would get other shoes, dump the umbrellas, get our raincoats and just be late for the concert. By the time we got back, parking was blocks away, (I could use the walk!) and the lines were now even longer instead of shorter. The rain had stopped and the skies were clearing. The lines, though were not moving. The opening act was already on stage. Soon the opening act was finished and we still were in a line outside the venue. Every so often we would wonder if we should just go home. The only thing keeping us in that line was that we had no expectations of anything. Sure, we were looking forward to a nice nite of music under the stars, but we really knew that we were where we were supposed to be. Not that we even really wanted to see the show that bad. The most meaningful part was just hanging out with my brother, and just attempting to get out and have some other kind of fun than we normally have was worth the try.
  As soon as we finally found our seats, Alison Krauss and Union Station appeared on stage. Her voice alone was really worth the trouble. The whole band was great.
   About halfway through the set, the band took a little break and left one musician on stage. Jerry Douglas is the band's dobro player. I'm not really into dobros, so I wasn't expecting the next thing that happened.
   Sometimes during a live concert, I get distracted by all the visuals of a show. I often just close my eyes and listen to the music. There is something different about closing my eyes at a concert that is different from doing it with a cd. The energy of the music is alive, and somehow more crystalline in its delivery. 
   As I listened to the sound of the dobro, it felt like a door was opening inside me. I couldn't say why, but I started to cry. It wasn't a sobbing kind of thing, thank goodness, but the kind of thing that happens when you're watching a movie, and it all of a sudden touches you and there you are with tears on your face.
   I'm still amazed that a night beginning with so much conditional mayhem, could come to such a place of such stillness and openness. It's like I cleared out everything around me and let this crystal clear sound be more than just a sound from an instrument. It became a thread to something deep inside myself and outside myself all at once. I just wasn't looking for that, but then there I found it.
   Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Jerry Douglas and his beautiful dobro. And thanks to all the mayhem that brought that one moment to the fore.


  1. I haven definitely had those moments at concerts where it seems like it's just the artist and me.

    I love Jerry Douglas! Haven't listened to him in awhile. Need to.

  2. I had an experience similar when I attended a Harp solo at Bakersfield College many years ago. The experience will last a life time in memory and it always brings me back to the wonder of it.
    Thank you for reminding me of it and the wonder that fills me even now in my seventies.

  3. I googled "zentangles"...stumbled upon your beautiful drawings and then this incredibly insightful description of your mind-body experience if you will at the concert. Certainly not what I was expecting. It reminded me of the joy of live music. It's been far too long. I'll have to do something about that. Thank you :)


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