Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Keeping You in Light

Timing is everything.

When Mac and I set out to walk this morning at 10 a.m., we were almost immediately passed by both a speeding cop and a speeding fire vehicle, but even that didn't prepare us to find several blocks of Franklin and Main closed to traffic as we walked down Second Street toward the river.

Now we know that's because at 10:05, police encountered a man in a kilt carrying a knife in one hand and an ax in the other at Third and Main Streets, tried to de-escalate the situation and wound up killing the man.

Honestly, I'm glad we were blissfully unaware of being a block from a situation, though I still feel we were a bit too close for comfort.

When we met up for dinner tonight at 8 1/2, the restaurant was as calm and serene as it had been harried and overcrowded last Tuesday.

Just when you make sure to allow extra time, it turns out you don't need it.

Not having to wait for my obscenely good turkey hero only meant that we could score a good bench and have a leisurely picnic in Scuffletown park before the music began. Mac showed off her mad picnicking skills by not only bringing cloth napkins but also a fat slice of chocolate espresso cake and two forks for sharing.

Originator of the music in the park series and tonight's featured performer Patrick arrived to unload his equipment with Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" blaring in his car and setting the evening's tone. Before long, a woman came over and asked if she could place her chair next to our bench without obstructing our view.

We welcomed the company and just before things got started, her husband showed up to join her.

The dance party king (and the man who'd once described me as "part of the fabric of Richmond") played host tonight, announcing, "Welcome to this Fall night in July," a nod to temperatures in the low '70s, before introducing Patrick and his band: violin, cello and drums.

At that moment, the woman turned to us and announced proudly, "That's our son!" and the man whispered, "He gets his talent from his parents."

Ah, that explained the young woman I'd overheard saying to them, "I heard your house was the one for jamming!" Good parents don't mind a little ruckus when their kid's got talent.

"Happy Tuesday. Finally, the weather broke!" Patrick said by way of greeting an ever-growing crowd that ignored the "Stay off the grass" signs and sprawled out on, yes, the lawn, as well as on bricks, on tables and benches. The crowds seem to grow every week.

Tonight's delightful weather was the ideal backdrop for the exquisite sounds of violin and cello played in the great outdoors to the thrum of cicada harmonies and brushes on drums.

Patrick's songs had the singer\songwriter qualities of dreamy lost '70s gems.

When he announced he was going to play a really old song, it got his parents buzzing, so I asked if they were trying to guess which song he might play. "Trying to guess the era," his Dad laughed.

Saying he was about to play some songs from the EP he put out a couple of years ago, Patrick admitted that he didn't get to play them much anymore. Why? "They're not as loud as I feel like I wanna be now."

Definitely not loud but most assuredly well-crafted and beautifully sung (and played), Before long, his parents were wondering which of his angst-y songs was next, while I was curious if he'd ever sung anything but.

"He always played angst-y songs, maybe a little less these days, but he only sang happy songs when he was little," his Mom explained as the band began what could almost surely be called a somewhat happy song.

She turned to me, palms up in surprise and grinning when she heard how relatively upbeat - "In the long run, you're going to have to help yourself" - it sounded with the strings winding their way through the rustling tree branches.

When Patrick announced that the band would do one more, someone called out, "Two!" and his devoted Mom yelled, "Three!" but he dashed their hopes, saying, "Not gonna happen" and instead inquired of the crowd who knew Suzanne Vega.

All the hands of a certain age went up and he rhapsodized about her music being the stuff of his childhood before taking on Vega's "Night Vision."

When the darkness takes you
With her hand across your face
Don't give in too quickly
Find the things she's erased

Find the line, find the shape
through the grain
Find the outline
Things will tell you their name

Some sets run long at Scuffletown, others, like tonight's, aren't nearly long enough given how wonderful the music sounds.

The consolation was that when the show broke up, the post-show mingling began and it soon became obvious that lots of people are pairing up these days.

I finally got to meet the dance king's new Queens-via-Texas squeeze, a charming woman who'd spent two hours in the river with him today and was already taken with Richmond's quirky charms.

Group discussion of architecture, history, trees and cost of living followed, with someone even nerdier than me suggesting a book she might enjoy for reference.

The scientist, whom I hadn't seen in at least a year, arrived after a Boy Scout meeting and surprised us all by announcing he now has a girlfriend and that he's "following her all over town."

Mac assured him that we love when guys do that.

As the blues harmonica player was being introduced to me, I reminded him that we'd met nearly a decade ago and he blushed to have forgotten me. I reminded him that while I've seen him play plenty, there would be no reason for him to recall one more face in the crowd. Still, he apologized unnecessarily.

As I was walking out, I ran into the traveling tailor and artist who's moving to New Orleans on Monday. In an effort to lighten his moving load, he's been selling off his paintings - at a rate of at least one per day, to his amazement - including a large piece sold to Black Sheep, coincidentally his favorite restaurant.

Talking about the move, he admitted that he hopes the time is right to do it, the consolation being that he can always come back if it doesn't suit him.

"But I've got to find out," he said earnestly about pulling up stakes.

If the timing's right, you'll know, I reassured him. And if not, heaven knows Richmond welcomes back all who leave.

As the great Fleetwood Mac oracle reminded us earlier tonight, it's not only right that you should play the way you feel, but that you listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness.

Sometimes it's the best motivator when you've just got to find out. And timing truly is everything.

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