Wow! What an experience. My thanks go out to anyone and everyone who had a hand in putting together the Bloomington concert.
I arrived at the John Waldron Arts Center at about 5:30. There were some people making pottery in some rooms on the first floor, but not much activity otherwise. As soon as I entered the building, I heard a familiar guitar.
I followed my ears up some stairs, turned a corner, stepped into a large room and there was Shawn in the middle of a sound check. The soundman was working on eliminating some RF in the system from the radio station next door.
The promoter, Freddie Anderson, introduced himself and asked if I was an EMHer. We had exchanged e-mail several times so it was good to meet in person. Freddie invited us (there were some other folks there also) to make ourselves at home while the bugs were worked out of the sound system.
Later, the warm up act arrived and after a trip next door to try to consult with the radio station engineer (he wasn’t there), I went to fetch gyros at the local Greek eatery. I hung around and met some other fans including Mike from Indy and EMHers Bob from Nashville and Linda, Steve and sons from Ohio.
I had brought my camera in hopes of getting a photo-op and did take a couple of shots during the sound check. I was delighted to find out that it was OK for me to shoot during the show (Thanks Freddie!). Since I and other EMHers had arrived early, we snatched choice seats–front row seats–about 20 feet from Shawn. Great for exposing film.
With about 80 people in the audience, the show started at 8:00 with Tom Roznowski and Mark Robinson, local Bloomington musicians. They did a fine set and played for just less than an hour. A quick break to move gear and Shawn came out about 9:20.
I didn’t keep track of all the songs he played, but all our favorites were there including some new ones that I hadn’t heard but had heard about. Shawn played Beautiful People and The Peace Song. Very cool! The highlight for me was L’Ballad. Other tunes I specifically remember incluied For Her, Moonshine, Woman, Man Hole, Casey, and of course, Early Morning Hours.
Shawn played for 90 minutes, took a break and came back for another 40 minutes or so. During the break two CDs were given away as door prizes. Such a deal.
After the show those that wished to stay were invited backstage to Shawn’s dressing room. He was back in his firefighter’s uniform (he really takes this seriously, gang) and chatted, smile for my camera, and signed autographs.
Again, thanks to everyone who had a part in the show and especially, “thanks” to Shawn for giving us all his wonderful music.
As I sat in the audience Thursday nite enjoying the gracious EMH seating arrangements, a thought occurred to me I wanted to pass on to you. You see, without the limiting influences of those “shoulder-dwelling monkeys” I’ve become so accustomed to (alcohol, etc., etc.), I experienced a personal revelation about Shawn that may or may not be self-evident to everyone else.
Evidently, it seems that thruout history every generation has had at its disposal some enlightened fellow human being whose “soul” purpose is to disseminate their message (how about that misspelling, folks?). I couldn’t ignore the recurrent theme throughout the entire concert that there really isn’t a lot of difference between the plight of other struggling humans such as Dahli Lama, Muhammed, Buddha, Lao Tse Tung, Jesus Christ, Amadeus, Martin Luther King, Jr., … and that of Shawn Phillips.
For 27 years, to my knowledge, he’s been singing the same old song about love and the light that accompanies it. He’s been picked up and put down so many times during those too few years for me to even remember. So, that thought brought to my mind the power of compassion Shawn has consistently possessed, and tried to share, by simply remaining steadfastly devoted to his message of caring for his fellowman. That’s a hell of a tough row to hoe!
I left the concert hall this morning feeling a strong sense of honor to have heard that meadowlark, Shawn Phillips, sing once again. I’m also honored to have met the other people there that, obviously from their applause, respect the musician in the same light as myself.
and thank you, dear God, for blessing this troubled world with such a wondrous voice of Hope — especially one that can hold a note that long 😉
a “new” fan,