Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winter Park, Summer Blues Part #1

I’m having another one of my William Wordsworth days. Perhaps I should explain. Wordsworth’s I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud has been my favorite poem for decades. Certainly the imagery is beautiful and spot on, but it’s that last stanza that hooked me the first time I read it. And every time since. I even made a refrigerator magnet with that stanza to remind me of the benefits of daily reflection.

I can tell when I’m going to have a Wordsworth day the moment I open my eyes. Like this morning. That last stanza is about reflection, and this morning I’m in full-on reflection mode from this past weekend’s 9th Annual Blues From the Top festival. The daffodils and my heart are dancing to the Blues (read the poem at the conclusion, and that will make sense).

This is the first year I’ve made the journey to Winter Park, CO, on Saturday morning instead of Friday evening. There were logistical concerns that prompted that decision, and although I missed the Friday night jam at Smokin’ Moe’s, I still heard about a week’s worth of great Blues in an awe inspiring Rocky Mountain setting. It’s just so damn beautiful! And, had I gone up Friday evening, I wouldn’t have had an EXHILARATING wildlife sighting. My good friend Bill was driving, and as we rounded a corner, I noticed what I thought were three small deer having a little nosh by the side of the road. Just as we got parallel to them, I noticed they were in fact rams. I’ve been in Colorado for twelve and a half years and these were my first rams! I’m still pretty excited about it. The last two on my list for sightings are mountain lion and bobcat. If anyone has any good sighting areas, hit me back.

We entered the park just as Michaela Rae was getting started, the teenager’s third consecutive year opening the festival, and she did us proud. I was carrying a boxed kid’s electric guitar for signatures. It’s a beautiful small, fire-engine red electric that I’m hauling around the planet for signatures so we can auction it at my Blue Star Connection Birthday Benefit in December. What better place than festivals to maximize signature value? The front is now almost completely covered. And guitarists only on this one.

After settling in at a table in the VIP tent (thank you John Catt!), all the greetings commenced, at this, the second event of the Blues Social Season (two weeks ago, Greeley Blues Jam kicked off our auspicious season). We’re just as snobby as other society events, but we’re snobby about hugs. We’re huggers. I had no shortage of great hugs this weekend, and I was just speaking to Jill Watkins to fill her in (she couldn’t make it this year...), and after we hung up, I realized I had actually made mention of the quality of a couple of hugs I’d received. So yes, I’m hug snob. I gave and received many memorable, but the top hugs for the weekend belong to Austin Young, Krisanne Young (Austin’s mom), Albert Cummings, Cricket, Janie Soong, Debbie Obermann, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Shara Todd, Carlton Armstrong, Enid Strong, Mary Bridget Davies, Scotty Rivera, and Art Ferrari. Just to name a few. Some people are just gifted huggers, and I don’t want to brag, but...

Speaking of Enid Strong, she and her husband, Dave, are very involved in the Colorado Blues world, this festival, and Blue Star Connection, and I had to get a little crafty on Saturday in order to get the guitar signed. Let me explain: John Catt always comps tickets for me and any staff from the Outlook. For the last couple of years, he’s also graciously given me an All Access pass. As I got to Will Call, hauling the guitar, I gave them my name, and nothing. John forgot me, but I called, and he spoke to the volunteer working Will Call and told him to give Bill and me a two-day VIP bracelet, which was greatly appreciated. A few minutes later I ran into Dave Strong and asked if he knew where John was, as I needed to get the guitar back stage. For the next couple of hours, John and I kept just missing each other, so he finally sent me a text. It said, “Come back stage now.” I thought, well, I don’t have a pass. But I do have a text. So, I showed the text to security, and they let me through. And again, I’d just missed John, but at least I got to get the guitar in the Green Room.

After returning to the VIP tent, I realized that I really needed to go to the Green Room every hour or so to ask for signatures, but again, I was without a pass. And then I realized that I still had the text. Now I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I told Dave and Enid I was going to, and they laughed and confirmed John wouldn’t care. There were three ways to enter the back stage area, and they shifted personnel every hour or so, so I just had to make sure I didn’t show the text to the same person twice. It worked! Now I must say that John Catt needs to be damned proud of his security, because they scrutinized the text to make sure it really came from him. They just didn’t check the time. I saw John first thing Sunday morning, and he gave me a pass. If he hadn’t, don’t think for a second I wouldn’t have used that text. Repeatedly.

Just as the Dustin Pittsley Band was taking the stage, I looked out and realized that I’d never seen that many people that early in the day at this festival. I’d also never seen so much snow still on the mountains either. It was gorgeous.

As my fingers hit these keys, I realize I’m already at nearly 1200 words, and I’ve only just touched on Saturday, and we still have Sunday to go, so I’m going to have to serialize this.

Before I go for now, I would like to just like to say a few words about my very dear friend (and equally gifted hugger), Austin Young. At fifteen years old, this fantastically talented guitarist possesses a grace many adults never realize. He was on the kids’ stage for most of the weekend, and I made sure to make my way over for his sets. During the course of the weekend, I heard more than a dozen people come over, shake his hand while saying, “You belong on the main stage.” They’re right, of course, but Young Austin smiled that warm, friendly, joyful smile of his, and said “Well, thank you!” from the bottom of his genuine heart. Having just returned from Clarksdale, MS., for the Pinetop Perkins Foundation Youth Masterclasses, Austin is riding high, and I feel like a proud parent. That night, I sat in the Green Room having dinner with Ronnie Baker Brooks after his closing set, just the two of us, and out of the hour or so we had together, most of it was spent talking about Austin. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Exactly one week earlier, I spent that much time, and a bit more, on the phone with the guitar instructor for the PPF program, Bob Margolin, and he too can’t say enough great things about Austin.

Austin and I are going to have a nice long interview soon, so I can dedicate an entire blog to him, but first, I have to finish Blues From the Top 2011. More tomorrow. ~Honey Bee Sepeda~

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay: 10
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 1804

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