By the time it was over, Sunday night 3 May, I felt as though I had crammed 2 weeks worth of activity into 2 and a half days. Having now caught my breath, I have to say, it was fun. A lot of work, sure, but fun work nonetheless.
My good friend, singer-songwriter Alan James from Del Dios, CA, arrived at our house on Friday. It was good to see him again. We quickly went to work rehearsing so that I could do an adequate job of backing him up on his Saturday performance. My favorite part was playing slide guitar for his “Midnight Rambler” song.
Rick Heyman and I had rehearsed enough we felt. But just to make things interesting, Rich injured his right hand just a couple days before the festival. But he assured me he could play that upright bass. (Playing through the pain! What a trooper!)
Friday night we went down to “Old Town Artisans” for the kick-off party. There were performances scheduled all evening long, hosted by friend and TKMA Vice President Steve Decker. Steve also performed that night with a couple singer-songwriters from the Phoenix area. My favorite song of the night was “Mystery Dance” by Tom Woolsey. But all the performers were quite good. I even heard and saw a saw player! No kidding. “Lon Austin and The Mexican Beaded Lizard Band” has a saw player. I asked him, and was told, “crosscut, definitely crosscut”.
Saturday afternoon Alan and I connected with Steve Decker to discuss our roles as Emcees for the “Acoustic Showcase” – a new venture for the folk festival. It was a performance area set up in the lobby of the Tucson Art Museum that ran like a weekend-long “open mic” with performers signing up in advance. I got assigned to host the first segment of the weekend and was quite pleased when the first performer, a young singer-songwriter from up-state New York, who had been in Tucson only for about 2 months, stepped up and did a stellar job. The Acoustic Showcase was a success that weekend and it was the only indoor, air-conditioned venue at the festival!
Alan performed at 5PM on Saturday. I did my best to not screw him up and I think it came out pretty well. At least that was the feedback from the crowd.
Saturday night, we were treated to a fantastic show by Todd Snider. If you ever get the chance to see him perform, don’t miss it. Afterward, as though we were young again, Alan and I headed out to Eb Eberleins house for the mid-festival party (about 11 PM). There were a bunch of really good musicians there and the jamming went on until the wee hours.
Gratefully, Sunday’s activities didn’t start until 11-AM. I caught some performances and attended a workshop. Alan presented a workshop on stagecraft – he’s good at that. At 6 PM, Rick and I took the stage. We managed to squeeze in five songs of the seven we had rehearsed. It was well received. I want to thank all our friends who came out to see us perform, particularly Larry and Skye Honig who jumped into action and were our “roadies” getting us and our equipment up on the stage. Thanks!! My daughter Rachel and fiancée Cody came down from Phoenix as did Alan’s son Jordan and fiancée April. It was great to see them all.
Sunday Night’s headliner was Eric Anderson. I didn’t stay for the whole show (it ran long due to technical glitches). But Alan, several years my senior mind you, not only stayed, but also attended the after-party at the Hotel Arizona that night. He played Midnight Rambler for Eric Anderson who expressed interest in the song and put Alan in contact with his business manager. As it turns out, back in the 1960’s Alan and Eric performed at some of the same San Francisco Coffee Houses. Eric remembered those gigs and laughed saying they were about the only thing he could remember.
After Alan left on Monday, I felt like I just run a marathon. In a matter of 4 months, I had formed a team with Rick Heyman, recorded an audition demo, gotten selected, recorded ten more songs, hastily produced a new CD, prepared back-up parts for Alan James, and performed at the biggest Folk Festival in Arizona. Not bad. Not bad at all.