Sunday, April 19, 2015

Deep Blue Babes - Soundtrack of my Life

Last night I went with a clergy colleague to see the Indigo Girls play with the VA Symphony at the Ferguson in Newport News.  As always they were amazing.  The only disappointment was no encore.  I'm guessing that there was either a curfew or that the symphony couldn't go past 10:00 without incurring overtime.  But the time we got with them was wonderful!  Kid Fears, Galileo, Love of our Lives, Closer to Fine, Fugitive, Power of Two, Ghost, Chicken Man, Go Go Go, a few from the latest CD and a couple I didn't know.  It was one of those venues where everyone sits down to listen.  Maybe some were symphony subscribers.  It reminded me of the time I heard them at Interlochen Center for the Arts, where I worked for five summers.  We got the night off from rehearsal, and all the young people were so excited to hear them.  From the time Emily and Amy came  onstage many in the audience popped up to start dancing.  Apparently that was upsetting to the subscribers because a couple of songs in Amy Ray said, "I'm sorry to have to say this, y'all, but you have to sit down."  There was lots of booing.  Eventually she said, "They're telling us we can't play unless you sit down."  Put a damper on it a bit, but we still enjoyed them and by the very end everyone jumped up to dance again.  I managed to chair dance until "Closer to Fine" Friday night, but then I had to get up and MOVE! 

The Indigo Girls are best enjoyed with friends, and I was grateful to Samantha Vincent-Alexander for going with me since Jan was at Deacon School this weekend.  Samantha's a big fan too.  We laughed because someone came out in between almost every song to give the girls fresh guitars.  We had a theory that Amy's black one only comes out for the angry or depressing songs.  And one with a really driving beat.  It was hilarious to watch our theory proven right.  Having the symphony play with them really brings a richness to the music.  On one song I could really see how Amy was loving listening to them while she was playing.  It was a cool combination.

When I first started going to Girls' concerts, it was usually two girls and their guitars, not even a band.  I still can't believe that they played in the little Pub at my beloved Sewanee and I missed them.  I didn't know who they were then, and I didn't go.  But I made up for it later.  My first concert was a road trip to the University of Alabama.  It was an outdoor venue, and people did NOT sit down and listen.  At the time I wasn't a huge fan - it took seeing them in person for me to fall in love.  As much as I enjoy listening to their CDs, there is nothing like seeing them live.  That was the first time I heard them do "All Along the Watchtower."  Powerful stuff.  There's something transmitted that isn't the same in recordings.  I supposed that's true for most artists - and certainly I know that experience from my years in live theatre.  But I don't know if I would have become the fan that I am if I hadn't gone to see them - we were pretty close to the stage, too, so their energy radiated out to us easily.

After that first concert, I heard them whenever I could.  We took a trip to Athens, GA to hear them at the Georgia Theatre right when "Nomads, Indians, and Saints" came out.  Stayed with my friend Jill and stood in line for hours for tickets.  We were close to the stage, standing almost right under the Girls listening to all those wonderful songs.  I don't think Michael Stipe was there, but there was a band.  On another occasion a group of us drove 9+ hours to Wake Forest in Winston Salem to hear them.  My brother was a student there, and he got us tickets.  Melissa, Doug, Tim, and maybe Mary and Susan.  I'm sure there were others who went with us.  It was a long way to go, but we had a blast. 

In later years I saw them at the Fox in Atlanta, at Chastain Park, at Interlochen, and last summer in Denver with my niece and sister-in-law at the amazing Red Rocks Ampitheatre.  There are so many memories.  During the summers I worked at Camp Mikell, Peter Linz would play their songs on his guitar, and we would all sit around singing.  I even learned to play "Closer to Fine" on my guitar one summer though there were a few chords I never mastered.  The only reason I ever need to be playing a guitar is if no one else around can play.  It's not my gift, but I sure love listening and singing along. 

I have so many favorite songs, both their originals, like "Love's Recovery," "Southland in the Springtime," "World Falls,"  and some of their covers like "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."  On Friday night as I was caught up again in the power of the music and lyrics, I chuckled as I realized that if there were a soundtrack for my life, it would be the Indigo Girls.  I love lots of other music, especially that of Celtic flavor, folk, and musicals, as well as pop, rock, and classical, but the Deep Blue Babes are the only group I have really followed, road-tripped to their concerts, bought so many CDs and listened to for so many hours on trips in the car.  I am so grateful for the words of their songs that have touched my heart and, I think I can say, been a force for change in my life, as well as their music that gets inside me in a way that is hard to articulate.  They have also been huge activists, and I admire the work they have done.  I'm so grateful to whichever of my friends invited me to "come with" to hear them that first time and started my love affair with these musicians whose music has been sent like a letter straight to my soul.  Thank you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

View from the Plaza Prayer Station - Would You Like a Cookie?

I got to spend time with a theatre major today.  She came by shortly after I arrived at the prayer station and asked me if I would like a banana or a cookie.  She said she always sees me sitting there and thought I might be hungry.  As I had brought a banana with me, I declined the one she offered, but the answer to "Would you like a cookie?" is always yes.  Yes.  I would like a cookie.  Yes.  White chocolate/cranberry.  Yum.  As a theatre major myself, it was especially cool to get to talk to her. 

The past couple of weeks at the Prayer Station have been slow.  Last week was cold and rainy, and I sat shivering in the DSU, irritated by the weather's refusal to cooperate.  The week before was Maundy Thursday, and it was a beautiful day, but I didn't have many visitors.  I think everyone has been slammed with end of term work, and I imagine they are all sequestered away somewhere studying. 

This week, however, the Plaza was filled with students.  Her Campus was doing an event that I couldn't quite figure out - something that involved taking pictures of people holding up large picture frames.  But the highlight was "Rent a Pi," a fundraiser for Pi Lambda Phi in which they were renting out the fraternity brothers, auction-style.  They had a microphone and a stage and were renting themselves out to clean rooms, cook meals, run errands, teach piano/guitar.  Most of them went for betwen $5-$10 but one went for $20.  It seemed like they were raising a lot more money than the more traditional bake sales, though I think sometimes the brothers were renting each other.  Silly fun. 

At one point I looked up and saw that I was surrounded by students, different groups represented.  We're planning a labyrinth walk for tonight, and some of my skateboard dudes are very interested in it.  They had come up to find out more about it.  I was glad of so much activity at the station today - it had been a little lonely lately.  I also got pulled into a discussion about campus ministries in the Admission office - a prospective student wanted to know about the offerings.  I was glad to help.  The parents had seen my sign outside.  I had a few prayer requests today and some good conversation.  A chaperone for a high school band trip sat down and talked for awhile about addiction and recovery.  Sometimes it's interesting to see how my jobs intersect.  I was grateful for the beautiful weather, though the wind nearly knocked the sign down again.  I'm hoping the labyrinth won't blow away tonight!