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Friday, April 22, 2005

Music and Diversity at Festival Del Mar

April 16th, a Saturday, found me away from the sink and outta the kitchen entirely! My husband, daughter, and I had the wonderful fortune to attend The First Annual Festival Del Mar. The weather was beautiful and so was the experience. What follows is an on-the-scene-report that I wrote for The Dishpan Chronicles. Enjoy

We arrived in Del Mar about 11:45 a.m., parked, and rode the tram to the middle of the race track where the festival was being held. We were getting our bearings when we found ourselves drawn to the Lagoon Stage by the upbeat sound of Randy Fontaine & The Swingers. What a great way to start a great day!

The Main Stage was our next destination as we wanted to see Lito and Celino Romero, the grandsons of legendary classical guitarist, Celedonio Romero. Celedonio passed away almost ten years ago but his sons and grandsons continue to perform for appreciative audiences all over the world. The Romeros are known as the “first family” of classical guitarists.

I love classical guitar so you can imagine my delight in having the opportunity so attend such a wonderful performance. My favorite pieces played by Lito and Celino were those that were written by their grandfather for two guitars. They were joined toward the end of their set by Pat Pixley, who played electric bass, which added a wonderful depth to the music.

A look around at the crowd of listeners brings to mind a favorite word of mine....Diversity. Fanning out before my eyes, I see a human assortment of culture, color, gender, age, style, and I am sure, belief, all gathered together to share musical experiences. Diversity celebrates difference - doesn’t crave control, threaten, or punish - no superior color, no one and only god, no homophobia, intolerance, or hatred ...everyone is enjoying life, here, today.

We stayed put at the Main Stage for the next performer scheduled was Mr. Charlie Musslewhite and his band. I was not so familiar with his music and had no idea that I would end up totally blown away! What a trip!

Charlie Musslewhite...The Blues, Chicago-style...an active, dancing audience....dancing sun umbrellas, dancing hats, dancing hearts, dancing feet...Chicago beat!

A culture of Rhythm and Blues!

Maybe the drugs of long ago......

Maybe the fact that my mother played jazz and classical music LPs when I was in the womb 55 years ago......

Or maybe, it’s a combination of the two, but I get inside of music and music gets inside of me! Now, that’s what I call a religious experience!

Charlie Musslewhite, is a soft-spoken, kind faced, humble man who’s soul sings in liquid satin notes through his mouth harp.

Again, we remained at the Main Stage. Macy Gray was on next. My daughter and I thought that she had an interesting voice when we saw her on the Grammys. So we went and got some drinks, returned to our spot, and got comfortable in our portable beach chairs as there was a bit of a wait. The crowd had grown by several hundred drawn no doubt by Miss Gray’s pop standing. Then, the “bit of a wait” turned into a long unexplained wait in the hot sun. I decided to practice my Spanish to pass the time......

¡Hay muchas personas más! ¡Macy Gray está quince minutos tarde!.....HOW DIVA RUDE!

The Romeros were punctual and professional. Charlie Musslewhite ever-gracious to and respectful of his audience was on stage on time.

¡Macy Gray está viente minutos tarde! ¿Quizas mañana? HOW DOUBLE DIVA RUDE!

Oh my, saints preserve us; she has graced us with her Divine presence!

We were more courteous than she. We sat through three of her songs backed by a thinly talented, very loud band. It was the first concert walk-out ever for all three of we music lovers. Overall, it was the only disappointment of the day, but a major one. Miss Gray it seems, expects the audience to give her adoration, whereas most real musicians give and receive by connecting with their listeners. Miss Gray was disconnected and distant. She is but a commercial package who has a “little bit of something” wrapped in a whole lotta empty flash.

We journeyed instead, over to the Island stage, and set up our chairs. There we would relax and wait for Taj Mahal who was due to perform at 5:15 p.m. A real mellow crowd had began to gather to watch Mr. Mahal do his sound check. Later, he returned (on time) to begin a rollicking set of "the blues" Taj Mahal-style.

I don’t even have words to describe the happy group of dancing, playing people of all kinds who were present. How is it that he plays the blues but makes people so happy? Everyone was having fun. Maybe it is because Taj is warm, down to earth, and full of fun himself. Even babies and old hippy ladies with canes were dancing...yep, I’ve figured out how to “cane dance!” The late afternoon was golden pleasant. A beach ball was kept aloft against the sky by the playful. I can’t remember feeling more spiritually balanced, peaceful, and happy for a long time.

When Taj finished his set, we went to stand in the autograph line. He was there in a few short minutes and we were thrilled to be able to meet him and get his autograph.

While standing in line, I found myself watching a “bottle spinner.” A large man was pacing around holding a full, plastic, bottle of water. He would sometimes loudly slap the side of it in time with the beat of Etta Jame's band. Then he would toss it spinning about 20 feet into the air. It would spin all the way up and all the way down to his hands. Then he would pace again. He was like a juggler with one ball.

I will conclude with a scene that I may have been the only one to witness. I saw a very little boy, a toddler about two, with dark, tussled hair. He was running along the edge of the grass and seemed to be alone. I continued to watch with my motherly instincts on full alert. Was he lost? He seemed to know where he was going and was doing so with determination. He ran until he was tiny blue in the distance. I never took my eyes off of him. He had run in an arch that ended in a large circular patch of grass. A flock of about thirty seagulls had landed on that patch to troll for leftovers. The little boy ran faster yet into the middle of the birds, threw his arms up, and jumped. His laugh carried on the wind to my ears as thirty sets of wings soared above the little one’s head. He jumped and danced with sheer joy while they circled above; another religious experience in the church of living.

P.S. His father (no doubt knowing his son) had stationed himself near the patch of grass with the seagulls. Boy and father were re-united after the bird dance.

I certainly hope to attend Festival Del Mar next year!

......................Kitchen Window Woman


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2:37 AM  

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