Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hitting My Stride

Contrary to what I was warned, it was not a #deathsentence.

As thunder and lightening got more intense in Jackson Ward, I debated going to Scuffletown Park for music.

On the one hand, one who lives mere blocks from the park messaged me, "It's thunderin' in these parts" and predicted certain death if I went to an outside show.

On the other hand, the park had to be cooler than my apartment, so the risk of sudden death seemed worth it.


When I got there, plenty of people were already spread out on blankets, but I joined the bench-sitters with a clear shot of tonight's artist, the talented Josh Small.

After a few minutes, he inquired of organizer Patrick if it was time to begin.

"Not yet, wait three more minutes," Patrick said, adhering to the Scuffletown series rules he no doubt made up.

"Man, you're strict. Okay, I'll just vamp 'til then," Josh said, nonplussed, promising to dazzle us with an array of cover songs original material and sad songs.

A Tuesday night audience really couldn't hope for any more.

He started with the Liza Kate-like sad song, "Knife in My Belly," as the thunder rumbled and the lightening flashed.

Then he called up harmonica player Andrew Ali to sit on the grass beside his bench for the Rodney Crowell gem, "Bluebird Wine," a song Josh got so involved playing that he rolled back on the bench, his feet up in the air as he played.

And it's all right now
I've just hit my stride
Right off the bat
I'm drunk on bluebird wine

Don't I wish.

For "Moses," Josh invited Andrew to leave the grass and join him on the bench ("We're like Bert and Ernie") and they outdid each other stomping feet and playing.

Eventually, the thunder got more distant as Josh showed us his take on being a soul singer, told a story about cell phones in 2003 and how Swahili was different than Disney ("Hakuna Matata") and continued to sing his heart out as dusk descended.

Meanwhile, I'd been joined on the bench by a friend and musician and we marveled at how once the thunder and lightening moved on, a delightful breeze had arrived with a drop in temperature, almost as if it had rained.

About to cover a Maxwell song, Josh praised the original for its horn solo, but said to watch out for the fake ending (we did) before doing a song he wrote for his Dad ("Singalong"), a talented musician in his own right whom I'd seen play with Josh a few years back.

After "Comedown," Josh closed his sunset performance with, as he put it, "A song by a band called Little Feat. It's called "Trouble" and I wish I'd had the wisdom to write it."

Fact is, that's a 40-year old song, which I suppose is why he had to explain Little Feat to the crowd.

By then, it was almost dark and host Patrick reminded us to keep the gate closed as we left so we wouldn't provide an escape route for Scuffletown's resident turtle.

Like a turtle can make a quick getaway, someone cracked.

But we took note because no one wants to piss off the pocket park's neighbors and lose our slice of sunset summer heaven.

Because we all know that if the gate were left open, it would almost certainly be a #deathsentence for the tortoise and who wants that on their conscience?

Far better to spend Tuesday night under thundering skies drunk on bluebird wine.

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