frenchpony (frenchpony) wrote,
frenchpony
frenchpony

  • Music:

Goshen, Kalamazoo, and Moving

I'll tell you one thing I love about Sacred Harp singers: They are an extremely adaptable bunch. Four of us went in a car to Goshen, Indiana and Kalamazoo, Michigan, to sing this past weekend, with no firm plans about where we would sleep. We arrived in Goshen shortly after midnight, and the plan was that I should take a billet originally intended for my friend Jim. The singer who was hosting had gone to bed and left her teenage son to wait up for us. She was remarkably unfazed to wake up in the morning and find that her houseguest was most assuredly not Jim.

The singing was hot. And I mean that not only in the sense of "everything clicked," though it did. No, it was broiling out there in Goshen. Fortunately, the church has fans, a couple of air conditioners, and big windows that we can open as long as we remember to prop them so we don't sing them down, which we did one year. Still, most everyone who had brought a hand fan had it out and waving after half an hour. There was a large contingent of Southerners there, more than I've seen at a northern singing since Ruth "The Bus Lady" Brown died. We had a good selection of Iveys, Syble Adams, Joan Aldridge, Bobby and Mercy Watkins . . . lots of fun.

Rodney Ivey was selling DVD copies of a new documentary about Sacred Harp singing called Awake, My Soul. It turns out to be a lovely film (we watched it at the Saturday-night social) that gives both a good historical overview of the art and an idea of what modern singing looks like.

This is the second year that I've gone to the Kalamazoo singing, and I think I'll keep on going. It's a separate event from the one in Goshen, but it's the next day, and only an hour's drive north/ Much of the same crowd tends to show up, and it sometimes feels a little like the second day of a two-day convention. Miss Pauline, who is now ninety-one, showed up for Kalamazoo. She is aging rapidly, and no longer leads with the gusto that she once had, but she looked absolutely blissful to be up there in the square singing.

At both singings, we sang tunes that I had never sung before, which is always fun. It's a great way to learn them, too -- enough people in a group that size will know any given song that you can learn new ones just by singing along.

And we got to drive by my favorite tacky landmark, twice. As you drive on the interstate from the Chicago Skyway through Gary, Indiana, you pass a sign that says "The People of Gary Welcome You." This sign is painted in bright green on the holding tank of a big, smelly sewage treatment plant. For those people reading this who don't know from Gary, Indiana, this placement pretty much sums Gary up.

In other news, I am officially Starting To Move. I've scheduled estimates with a couple of moving companies, and I made the ceremonial first trip to the liquor store to hit them up for boxes. I packed two today. The deluge has begun.
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