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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.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
dawtheminstrel
Jul. 20th, 2006 01:06 am (UTC)
You all sound like a traveling show! What a nice way to spend the weekend.
frenchpony
Jul. 20th, 2006 01:16 am (UTC)
Considering the mix of people in Jim's car, yes, we were a traveling show. But we were traveling to an even bigger circus, the Northernmost Southern Singing.
gwynhyffar
Jul. 20th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)
That sounds like a great time! Taking off with no set plans is what life is all about. :D
frenchpony
Jul. 20th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
There are times when it just feels invigorating to hurl yourself upon the mercy of the world. Usually, something will catch you.
plorkwort
Jul. 20th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
I saw Martha's photos online and missed you all very much!
frenchpony
Jul. 20th, 2006 03:53 am (UTC)
Martha turns out to be a Sacred Harp photographer in much the same way that Robert Capa was a war photographer. She always takes such wonderful pictures.
sealover_astara
Jul. 20th, 2006 10:27 am (UTC)
Oh wow, I'm impressed! I've never heard of this kind of music.

How many more boxes to go? *wink*
frenchpony
Jul. 20th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'm not surprised that you haven't heard of it. It's a rare form of American folk singing, and most Americans don't know about it. If you're curious, check out the fasola website, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Sacred Harp singing.

How many more boxes to go? *wink*

Enough that I'll soon be asking the liquor store not to remove the bottles of liquor before giving me the boxes.
sealover_astara
Jul. 21st, 2006 12:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link!
bodkin_ra
Jul. 20th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)
Starting to move sounds very wearing. It's amazing how much stuff we all have!

Sounds as if you had a good time singing - and it must be good for the health - 91 and still singing.
frenchpony
Jul. 20th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC)
They do say that moving is a psychological stress right up there with death and divorce. I'm just happy that I'll be in Chicago for at least five years. No moving!

I rarely have a bad time singing. It's one of the few activities in life to bring unadulterated joy. And I think it is good for the health -- all that deep breathing.
perelleth
Jul. 24th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
right up there with death and divorce>/i> I agree! my condolences! But then, if it is for five years... well it isn't all that bad. Anyway, you've done it rightly, commencing so early! Congratulations!
frenchpony
Jul. 24th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
Right now, the place looks like a bomb went off in it, but I figure all the work now means less work to do later.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )