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!
• Another event – Several weeks out, we discovered that the Lucketts Bluegrass Foundation in Leesburg would start back live with two big acts there, Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass and Shannon Beilsky and Moonlight Drive. Our musician friends in the bluegrass world would be very excited by this. We love Lucketts and would have been there ourselves. I did my due diligence as a social media Director and board member for Bluegrass Country Radio and posted as directed.
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 very hopeful. 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 Adams sent 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!
The Music begins:
King Street Bluegrass served as opener. Of course, after a private jam with Brandon the night before, Donnie Faulkner could not resist inviting him up to sing. His tenor matched with Donnie‘s lead perfectly, not to mention raised eyebrows from the band on any guitar break that was thrown at him. Here’s one of Brandon playing multiple solos on Foggy Mountain Breakdown with that band, fearless!
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.