Yesterday after a show, our jazz trio had ordered a post-gig meal at Denny’s, this robot casually rolls over to gives us the food. “Enjoy!” It says cheerfully in a faintly sexy feminine voice, as we took the dishes off. …blink blink… We looked at each other.
Yea, yea… it’s one of those old-people-what-will-they-think-of-next writings.
A friend upon returning from a trip to China in 2000, incredulously telling us “did you know almost everyone over there has their OWN cellphone!? …blink blink… sitting in the track kitchen, we are like, “no way!”
To those of us who have lived through the switch from the morning newspaper to internet news, podcasts and apps. Instead of shouting out your window, like Howard Beale “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” in the 1975 film classic Network scene, we’re now able to gripe on the internet! We can write anything our heart desires for all to see… Throw up a video, or create a poster of sorts… a meme… to tell your views to the world. Livestream in the moment instantaneously… Blink blink…
It’s been an unbelievable ride.
Instead of visiting, writing a letter, or calling them on the phone, we may now “check in” on our friends, family or even distant acquaintances on Instagram. (We’re so used to doing it that it doesn’t even get a blink)
Weirdly enough, in their quest to keep everyone engaged on the platform, the algorithms seem to quite readily pick up sorrow and misery. Frequently a prayer request, sickness or death announcement is the first post we see when we login. Our connections are mourning losses, maybe in the ER themselves, or just plain sad.
Admittedly, it comes in handy. A good jolt to come to reality, that all those shiny rosy posts aren’t what everyone’s life is.
Point being, Valentine’s Day isn’t always such a happy day for everyone.
This is a really letter of comfort, to all those folks whose Valentine is no longer with them. Or for those who never found one. Or for the ones who are in pain from injury, sickness or health issues, young or old… or those who are living in a car, or on the street, lost their job or in a bad situation. You are a most wonderful awesome miraculous being. Please don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise, tries to diminish you or take away the uniqueness that defines you.
And for those who have one of those fabulous lives that you see on social media, a gorgeous home and family, a healthy lifestyle and prosperity. Truly hoping that you can take a moment out and lend a hand to someone, give them a ring, a text, a friendly Facebook message.
Or maybe just a few bucks to someone on the side of the road.
One does not frivolously invite someone of Brandon Lee Adams’ stature to take a train north from Danville. We surely were itching for a show in May, which was the time we agreed on the date. We were cautiously emerging from Covid, smarting from all our own music dates cancelled. It turned out Brandon also had also lost performance dates due to Covid restrictions.
Music makers, famous like Brandon or local like our bands, were all reeling, basically sitting in the same boat. Between festivals, concerts and shows getting canceled, and some music venues just plain closing down, we all had to content ourselves in 2020 and early 2021 with live streaming, internet jams and interviews from a distance. It was high time for us to schedule a mini fest!
We also invited selected artists to show their work, and they were eager to get out as well! Our skateboard people were ready to join in with a demo, and the Lions Club agreed to provide food service for us, Perfect!
What could go wrong?
• Timing: We found out a lot of our family and friends were out of town, to the beaches, visiting family and lots of other traveling happening. Why?,. well,,, because they now could!
We decided to rely on our closer fans for our event, who were more generally music fans of all genres.
• New project: It suddenly became necessary to take over the training of Rocky Bomber ourselves. The Lisi Stables was no longer set up to train our own, we had to completely update all the harness racing equipment and supplies. We worked hard and Rocky is in Waldorf now, running in the fields and jogging each day.
• Medical issues: Oh yes…there is this thing where they “boost”(?) the proton radiation at the end of the 5 week course. The fatigue that came with this was… literally staggering. Added to this that Stroke survivor Robert Swain, who owns Dogue Cottage had collapsed two weeks prior to the event from heat stroke. The ambulance took him for a two-day stay at Alexandria Hospital, thanks to the Lions Club members quick action, who had gone to check on him him at home.
What should have been an enjoyable job readying Dogue Cottage to receive guests, now appeared impossible. …Lead singer Donnie Faulkner to the rescue, as he trimmed the perimeter of Dogue Cottage and all the overgrown brush in time for the show! Let’s not talk about the big fat doe who ate my prize begonias bordering the stage. (Bill Farrar and his friend had the “VIP” seats at the show, up on the shaded back porch. He’s a high end landscaper, and advised us to use both Bobbex and Deer Fence, which can be procured at Merrifield Garden Center or Meadows Farms)
In spite of everything, the attendance was building nicely, and looked veryhopeful. Except: The Weather.
• The weather: ohhh that changeable Northern Virginia weather! BOTH Saturday and Sunday were forecasted with heavy storms, flash flooding and high winds. Truly a nightmare for an outdoor concert. The night before the show, the phone was buzzing alerts off the hook about dangerous weather. By the morning of the show 4AM, the situation looked even more dire for the original date, but now much nicer for Sunday, the 18th. We chose to move it to the next day, and spent the wee hours updating everything online, and getting the word out!!
It never rained here. Not one drop!
Downpours in Rockville and elsewhere. (Well there were two drops on the windshield at 3pm) ~ Though it was oppressively hot on July 17th. 98° in the shade ~ Heat index over 105°. We felt grateful for the postponement.
• Signage: The mailman ran over our sign informing would-be visitors that the show was postponed until the next day! …Ah well…
Sadly, we lost one artist who had to work the next day. Check Malek’s Turkish art out at her Etsy shop .
• Unpredictable train schedules: It turns out that nowadays Amtrak shares the train tracks between passenger trains and freight trains. What was a set schedule has become fraught with frequent delays and stoppages. Our star performer didn’t dare to get any shuteye. His train was three hours late arriving! We were all worried about Brandon’s stress level and need to rest. Luckily he is such a chilled out person that he rolls with the punches!
What went right:
The pre show jam session Friday was a blast! Brandon was awakened from his post-train extended nap to music in the living room. He quickly joined in! We shared dinner, music and (perhaps a few) libations! Video below
First, a big thanks to the Mason Meck Lions Club for providing the hot dogs, brats & burgers fresh grilled with sides and drinks. Every bit of what they raise goes to the needy.
The Artists arrive:
Throughout the afternoon, displays by selected superb artists including:
• Renowned artist Heather Levy sent prints of her abstract expressionist artwork~ here is one titled “Song of the Blue Falcon”
• Wearable art & design by Chandra Clark JAZEAZ! She arrived with full regalia, including mannequins showing off her colorful dresses, swimwear, on the tables shoes of her own design and jewelry! Check out her video with Brandon covering a cool Jerry Reed song in the background! From her Instagram follow her!
• Creative works by Cindy A Smith, including her “abandoned” collection! Cindy has been a lifelong rescuer of horses from slaughter, with the Central Virginia Horse Rescue, which she has handed over to her daughter to run, to give her more time to paint!
Brandon’s wife Mindy Scott Adamssent a gorgeous display of her fascinating photography
Arthur Lisi as soundman had set up his sound system beforehand, and had everything “tuned in” – it was easily heard by those watching the skate demo in the cul-de-sac. Everyone enjoyed the demo by skateboard wizard Arthur Lisi Jr and his brother Tony Lisi. Some little tykes and the kids at heart as well! Here’s a short of the Lisi Brothers taking a slide on the Dogue Cottage YouTube!
While King Street Bluegrass was clearing the stage for Brandon, Jay Herriot, president of The 25th Project, which ministers to the Homeless, spoke gratefully about the cooperation between Mason Neck Lions Club and his charity.
The main attraction: Brandon Lee Adams
Then at last, Brandon began to capture the audience. Chit chat ceased and applause began. That is when everyone discovered why he’s appeared with such luminaries as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and won a coveted IBMA Momentum Award. Adams has a true gift. His formidable guitar skills wow’d the audience, his voice was unforgettable.
All our troubles simply melted away at the sound of his voice and the rich tones of Brandon’s guitar…
Brandon had a train to catch at 5pm. Of course, there were calls for encores. He obliged with one, and disappeared into the house to pack, barely in time to get to the station in DC.
**We’re awaiting some hi-def footage of Brandon from WERA radio host, JD and TV videographer Anders Thueson. Check back to view it and more!
Post show jam:
As usual, the musicians ended up having a fun jam session afterwards. Surprisingly the listeners remained while the Lions packed up. Matt Slocum of DCBluegrass Union also showed up for some tunes!
I got a few gifts, some pocket change, and a lot of good feelings watching the camaraderie between the music makers, artists, the charities and the skaters. Brandon was the focal point of all this.
There was a certain donation to the 25th Project for the homeless, by a certain performer, which he wouldn’t want to have called out… but he plays a guitar like ringin s bell.
Hands down, thank God the world has Brandon Lee Adams.