Thursday, July 6, 2006

A Lovely Evening

Sometimes all the planets align just perfectly...

Local real estate agents mail me stuff.  They want to be my real estate agent.  They mail me potholders and calendars and notepads.  Last week, a particularly enterprising real estate agent sent me a list of outdoor summer concerts.  I gave a quick scan of the names expecting to throw it out, when I saw, "July 6:  Eileen Ivers."

Here's the thing.  I've seen Eileen Ivers in concert.  Four times.  I own all of her CDs.  To sum up:  I dig Eileen Ivers.

And this little card says she's doing an outdoor summer concert.  In my city. 

I've never been to the location where the concert is scheduled.  I google it.  It's a concert shell in a local park that's all of a mile from my house.  Honestly.  One metro rail stop away.  To put it another way -- I've often parked in the parking lot that you use for this park, but didn't even know the park was there. 

It gets better.  The concert is free.  Honest to goodness.  I've paid big piles of money to hear Eileen Ivers in concert.  At the Hollywood Bowl.  And at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  And now she's giving a free outdoor concert at a nice park about a mile from my house?  I am so there.

I show up at the park at 6:30.  There are maybe 30 people setting up blankets in front of the concert shell.  (Peggy had reminded to me to bring something to sit on.  Had she not said this, I probably would not have remembered I have a towel in the back of my car.  I have a black leather skirt back there too.  Between the two items, I am probably covered for any eventuality.)  Anyway, I ask someone at the concert where to get food.  They aim me toward a shop a couple blocks away.

The shop is exactly what I need -- one of them shops with pre-made sandwiches and hot food all packaged to go.  (They'll nuke your hot food for you when you pay for it.)  Ten minutes later, and I'm back in the park, stretching out on my Minnie Mouse towel, scarfing down some dim sum and Gatorade.  (The dinner of champions!)

Eileen Ivers is a Celtic Fiddler.  (I know.  I don't strike you as the Celtic Fiddle Music type.  I don't strike me as the Celtic Fiddle Music type.  But Eileen Ivers was the fiddler in Riverdance -- and after listening to the Riverdance cast recording for a little while, it dawned on me that "Hey, I really like this fiddler; maybe I should pick up her solo album.")  Anyway, she's awesome.  Nine time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion.  Girlfriend can play.  She makes that fiddle laugh and cry, ... and wail like Jimi Hendrix on electric guitar.  (You know that song, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"?  Well, he went to Georgia 'cause he knew Eileen Ivers was in New York.  I'm just sayin.)  She's currently working with a band called Immigrant Soul, and they're working on a fusion sort of sound.  Fusing Celtic fiddle with, say, African or Cuban rhythms.  Fun stuff.

So, anyway, here's me at the concert.  Before it starts, the announcer asks if anyone here is already a fan of Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul.  A couple people raise their hands; a few clap; I politely yell out "Wooo."  There might be 10 of us in this crowd of (now) a couple hundred.  I'm surprised that so many people came to this concert who have never heard of Eileen Ivers -- but I guess that makes sense when it's free and all.  (I am also surprised that there aren't many other Eileen Ivers fans there.  Then again, I wouldn't have even known about the concert if it weren't for the real estate agent.)

The concert starts and the crowd is appreciative.  It's a good group of people and we're all sorta diggin' the music.  Little kids who had been chasing each other across the lawn, barefoot, are now twirling around or bouncing to the beat.  One man is moved to tap out a rhythm -- using his thighs like drums.  The rest of us nod or clap along.  Eileen encourages the audience to clap along at all of her concerts, but the audience enthusiasm is generally pretty restrained, like it would somehow be wrong to hoot and holler in the middle of Disney Hall.  We're freed of all that, outside at the park, and by the end of the concert, it's pretty much a party atmosphere.  A woman who had been sitting near me stands up and starts step-dancing in the grass.  Eileen jumps down from the stage and fiddles while she walks through the crowd (let's hear it for wireless amps).  She gets back on stage and encourages people to form a conga line.  Arms are swaying in the air.  A man puts his little girl on his shoulders.  A woman dances with her daughter.  Old people, young people, Black people, White People, Asian people, Hispanic people, friends and strangers -- all clap along, dance along, sing along to a song about peace.

Played by the bestest Celtic Fiddler out there, and her band.

In a little concert shell.  In a park.  

About a mile from my house. 

For free.


tammyg22 said...

So--did you sign up with the real estate agent?  Enquiring minds want to know.

mawmellow said...

Life is full of simple pleasures, if we just look around.  I had the same type of incident with Greg Brown.  Saw him ages ago in a bar/restaurant.  Loved his style.  Happened to be reading my local paper and saw he was going to be playing in the college town to the south of me that night.  You can bet, I delayed any other plans.  He was just as awesome this time and many people have never heard of him, although he has an extensive list of recorded music.  I've always heard the best things in life are free !

rwdykt said...

That's pretty cool and you captured the moment really well.

It's all weird and giddy when even minor celebrities are in the town near you.  The first time I saw Weird Al (huge Weird Al fan, have seen him in concert like 15 times), I had become a big fan between tours and then suddenly, there he was, touring to the college theater like 5 minutes from my house.  I've been on that stage, I took classes there, and here he was.  The funny thing was, he did a little routine in the middle where he started reading the upcoming events from the program and was naming towns and local acts I've seen and it was just surreal.

Had the same feeling when Conan was in Chicago earlier this year and he and Sean Hayes started yelling "GLEN ELLYN!!!" which is where Sean grew up and 5 minutes from the town I grew up in.  

hewasolddog299 said...

I read the upcoming events list for that little band shell and you are truly blessed to have such a rare opportunity to see all those acts for free. I'm glad you got to see Eileen. I saw her in concert a couple of years ago in Boston and with the Riverdance troupe, of course.