We, and by "we" I mean my whole immediate family, spent last week at Vacation Bible School. I was the music person, Jon was the 5th grade leader, Sammy was the photographer/ sidekick to Josh, Jesse and Joey were participants. It was a great week. We had lots of fun. We got real tired.
On Friday afternoon Jon and I packed up the van, left the kids with our friend Sandy and went to camp at Branched Oak State Rec. Area. It's 20 minutes from our house. We sat in camp chairs in the shade and had a beer to celebrate our freedom and then headed three miles down the road to the Nebraska Folk and Roots Music Festival. We saw Smooth Hound Smith, Kris Lager Band and finished the night off with Gregory Alan Isakov. He was real good. It was the first date of his tour for his new album. It was pretty cool. We saw friends hanging out at the festival, we drank Kinkaider beers, we used a flashlight to manage the darkness.
On Saturday we woke up to birds chirping, a clear blue sky and a wonderfully peaceful morning. We made our camping French Press coffee, talked and felt more relaxed than we had in a long time. And it only took one night under the stars in the out of doors to heal us and make us feel like we had escaped. We hiked to the waterfront, we went for a morning swim, we hiked back, we had a beer.
At the festival we loved Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters from Louisville, KY and CJ Mills from Omaha. She was AMAZING. She was so good that part of me thinks they slotted her too early in the festival because the bands after her had a hard time living up to what she brought to the table. She's real good. She knows what she's doing and so does her band.
And then there's Darrell Scott. I am a big fan. I am also a big fan of his wife, Angela. Darrell was the Saturday night headliner. I thought he was closing the show, but no, they had him slotted for 9:20. Did I mention I had to leave the festival to go do the melodrama in Seward? I did. That meant I was going to miss the first 30 minutes of Darrell on stage. (I was also going to miss my friend, Andy Miller DJ for KZUM, introducing him which- did anybody record that?)
In my excitement to see both Darrell and Angela, I was texting them and jokingly said, "I'm ready for the harmonies if Darrell needs me." Because I want to be accommodating and because I know all his songs and because it's been a long time dream of mine to sing with him.
So what do you think went through my mind when, as I'm leaving the melodrama, I see a text from Angela saying, "If you're here, come sing with Darrell on "Great Day?"
I tell Jon to step on it (within reason) to get back to the festival. This is my one shot to make my dream come true. Holy crap!!!!
We get there, we use our flashlight to manage the darkness and see Angela at the merch table. Darrell is on stage. She suggests that I get as close to the stage as I can so he can see that I'm here. Ok. I did it. Maybe three songs in he sees me there and when he finished the song he motions for me to get up there with him.
I run around the stage, spit my gum into the grass and walk up the steps to join him.
And then I'm singing with my favorite singer/songwriter and there are people there to witness it and I think back to eight years prior when my friend Mike and I were working on a song together for Darrell's songwriting workshop at Prairie Loft in Hastings, NE. And we were in a barn sweating and I started crying just to hear Darrell come in with his guitar on a song we had written.
This was another step in the journey. And I didn't cry. I was smiling. And after 8 years I was glad to be singing with my songwriting hero, but more than that, I was glad to be singing with my friend.
Jon recorded it. I've listened to it. I know how I can make it better for next time. It was another lesson in, "You never know."
The take aways from this weekend: Live music is magic, look for the good stuff right there in your own hometown, listen and learn.
Also, you don't have to get on a plane to get away. 20 minutes down the road under the stars, sitting in a camp chair drinking beer and watching the birds is enough to feel renewed. I highly recommend it.
"The life I love is playing music with my friends." I feel the same way. Keep your eyes and ears and heart open. Be a healer, a unifier, a light of hope. Fear not the darkness, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does NOT overcome it."