Just got home from Kickapoo… Wow. Went on ’til 1:00am.
I swear it was like a family reunion – a good one. There were the old-timers, the immediate family, the first cousins, the extended branches, the newest members of the family – all collected in honor of the patriarc – Shawn.
Cat, Keith, Sheryl, Patty, Jim K., (who am I forgetting?? I’m pretty tired – pleasantly so). Meeting them face to face was truly no more complicated than being reunited with family… And the Shirts are outstanding! Good Job Sheryl!
Shawn – I will get more to the music tommorrow after some rest, It was wonderful and magical – but Shawn was so marvelously real, and warm, witty and worthy of all of the great things I’ve ever heard of him as he is in person… I spent a great deal of time with him as he was preparing for the gig. It was an impromptu occasion to visit with the real guy, and a chance to meet his charming & lovely wife Tasia. (P.S. – He did his new song, Beautiful People… another classic).
A closing note… the crowd was good, and among the group was my husband, John, who has humored my passion for Shawn without really ever paying much attention to his music… He was not excited about the concert, rather he was excited by my excitement – Let me tell you guys, after the show he made it a point to walk up and shake Shawn’s hand. He gets it now! In the car on the way home he said there should have been a million people in that audience, and he is in awe…He’ll be joining the mailing list shortly and telling HIS tale of discovering Shawn.
Note: as the Shawn part of the show started, Keith was sitting up front alone, and I felt the need to go sit with him (and offer him my OFF – I wasn’t sure if he was familiar with the Texas Chigger hazard sitting in the grass….
It was so cool to be at my first live performance, sitting with a “brother” who I knew was right there with me in the moment, and shared a bit of magic with me as Shawn began to sing. Goose bumb time.
I’m still floating (and rambling – time for some zzz’s!)… And it DID start a light sprinkling of rain right before Shawn came out – Keith, Mr Seattle, got some razzing about that! But it was very surreal as the night was clear and the stars were out even during the light and short rain – I think it was just a good omen… By the time Shawn came out it was a beautiful night under a clear sky studded with stars as bright and clear as Shawn himself.
Highlights of the Kickapoo Music Fest from the personal journal of Keith Ranney.
I checked into the Days Inn in Athens at about 3:45 on Saturday, June 28th, after 2 days of sales calls to Fortune 500 companies in Dallas and Ft. Worth. Take a quick dip in the hotel pool, exposing my ghostly Seattle body to sun for the first time this year. Pack all the essential festival gear; 175 gram “ultimate” frisbee, IBM Thinkpad, portable recliner, and fill my portable ice chest with Balance Bars, Knudsen lemonade and spring water.
I arrive at the concert site at about 5:45 PM. Parking is well planned out and accessible. The stage is made of hay bales. Shawn is on stage performing his usual pre-gig tasks. I see Sheryl in her Kickapoo T-shirt creation and introduce myself. She did a really nice job on the shirts.
I put my official “EMH Crew” shirt on and head over to claim my $12 piece of real estate. There’s a ring of lawn chairs in a semi-circle about 25-30 feet from the foot of the stage. I park my gear just in front of the circle since my portable backrest sits on the ground. I sit down and take a moment to enjoy some flashbacks from the 11 previous SP concerts I’d seen during the mid-70’s. Between the flashbacks, I am humbled by the amazing journey Shawn’s’ music has taken him on and I watch ‘The Man’ care to the details of his craft. Black jeans and a reddish silk shirt, it’s obvious he has Texas blood keeping him cool. Meanwhile, I’m a puddle of sweat.
Just as Shawn wraps up his preparations, I seize the moment to take care of some 20 year old business, an SP reconnection on the 3D plane. Plus, I come bearing two gifts; a Seattle T-shirt as an “encouragement to plan a Seattle venue” and a work-in-progress, a new SP lyrics page. I walk up to Shawn with my laptop already fired up and show him the next evolution of the lyrics pages – originally begun by Brendt, with help by EMHer, Dan Eggleston and others.
When I demonstrate how the page works, I use “Contribution” as an example, clicking on each of the songs in the left frame. He stops me when I go past “Manhole Covered Wagon” and asks me to go back. He keeps forgetting the lyrics in the 3rd verse:
Then he spoke to all his children
Said we’re building up the brawl
Just you keep your fists from flying
In its holographic cause
And bring your love and guitars
While we sit and count the stars
And talk about faith among us
Without visiting any bars
Mr. Troster replies to Galli
Among the bright and heavy cars
And the truth about life among us
That it’s trying very hard
It will be another 4 hours until Shawn starts, time to eat Bar-B-Que, talk to EMHers and other Shawn fans and people who haven’t heard Shawn yet. And, most importantly, get in my daily cardio-vascular exercise via frisbee – which takes me through the 2nd and half of the third acts until I was literally soaked, but feeling good.
Meanwhile, Sheryl is sitting on the floor next to Shawn, quite engaged in conversation. When she moves, I take her seat and fill in some gaps from my memory – basically confirming that it was possible to see him 11 times between ’73 and ’77 in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area. So, this concert makes number 12.
I go back to the concert area to watch the last couple songs of the 3rd act. Just as they’re finishing the last song, it starts to drizzle – but there are no rain clouds, just one whispy cloud that is so thin you can see right through it. My theory – a cloaked space ship flying overhead, dripping condensation.
There’s a brief flurry to cover up Shawn’s keyboard, Mac laptop and guitars. But then the drizzle stops as quickly as it started – and the show begins with “Man Hole Covered Wagon” – with no lyric memory lapses, thank you very much!
Folks, I’ve been honest with you up to this point, so it’s only fair to tell you straight. Since I’ve seen Shawn so many times during his prime and have worn grooves in all of his albums, I’m here to say that it was not the same experience. There are a few songs that Shawn just shouldn’t have in his song list – Early Morning Hours, for one. The highs just aren’t there. To preserve the integrity of the music, I’d love to see him travel with a back up singer who can cover the high notes – it would be easier on him and could add a wonderful new dimension to the music.
On the other hand (OTOH) – the guitar playing was excellent and the spirit of the man touched me to my very core, once again. Frankly, he could have stood up there and croaked like a frog and I would still have been moved. And, for those songs that didn’t challenge his current range, the voice was strong, resonant and beautiful.
After the show I found myself in a delightful conversation with Shawn’s wife, Tasia (Phantasia). Somehow we got on the subject of EMH, which she said she couldn’t participate in because she wasn’t awake in the early morning hours – and she was serious. I felt it was my civic duty to pull out my IBM Thinkpad and explain that EMH was not a time of day, but a community united in the love of her husband, and that she could access “us” at her convenience. I showed her the Participation Page and the new lyrics pages. She is just the kind of exotic worldwise (Greek) beauty you would expect Shawn to manifest in his blessed life.
Finally, at 2:00 AM, as I’m heading for my rental car (now in complete blackness in the woods), I pass by Shawn and Tasia as they’re raiding Rays fridge for some chicken. I walk up to Shawn and thank him for staying so long and his response was the same response to the same “thank you” I said to him 20 years ago, at a concert in North Dallas where he played for 3.5 hours, “Thanks for staying!”
Thanks to everyone who was there for sharing this unique experience with me; Denise, Sheryl, Cat, Judy (Cat’s friend), Jim, Rodney . . .
Random thoughts on Kickapoo…now that a week’s passed and some of it’s sunk in.
Great to meet fellow emh’ers like Sheryl, Patty, Denise, etc. If I left one out its unintentional. The concert was almost like a family reunion…for me especially, having not seen Ray Gallagher in 7 years. As you all know..he busted his a__ to put this gig on…shelling out several thousands of personal bucks (i.e. the stage lights were $120 a day, and by the time we all came to sunday, it was too late to take them back, so add another $120…Ray paid Eddie (local cowboy) to treat every fire ant mound on the property the day before the concert…anyway…it came off great considering the day before at 3:30pm the site got an inch and a half downpour of rain…and there was a 30% chance of storms for the day of the show.
Saturday afternoon, Shawn and I were walking out to the stage area to start unloading…and I asked him if he still sings What’s Happening Jim, one of my favorites. He says “no, I can’t hit the high notes anymore.” Then he looks over at me, and smiles and says “What’s happening, Jim?” and laughs out loud….later he says that since he’s quit smoking, his voice is getting back up there again. Ray says if he ever does it again (Fall ’98 is being kickapooed around) there will be some changes: One opening act only before Shawn…he agrees with us that Shawn went on way too late at Kickapoo…Ray’s talking about getting started at 2pm on a cool October afternoon. Also eliminates such expenses as lights. He’s open to other suggestions. I agree with Keith…Shawn ought to take a hard look at his play list and avoid tunes that don’t fit his present voice. I’d forgotten what a great musician Shawn is…he tore up those guitars..
This is too long so I’ll quit now…just to say again it was a special day…one of those that make for damn fine memories….