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September 14, 2005

I am destined to see Robin and Linda Williams in strange environments. This time it was a concert in Basel in cavernous room in a converted factory. The PA system was not quite up to the task but Robin and Linda (and Their Fine Group) added everyone in the hall to their dedicated fan base. It was their first performance in Switzerland and in spite of the fact that many in the audience couldn't quite grasp the nuances of the humor, they laughed in most of the right places (one listener said in German that "one simply knows that they are funny." He was right).

The audience DID understand the music. How do R & L keep getting better? Jim Watson (bass, mandolin, vocals, and good vibes) and Jimmy Gadreau (mandolin and more good vibes) were, not surprisingly, superb. The lines at the CD table were long and lots of Swiss francs (still a pretty stable currency) changed hands.

Folk music generally travels well but it winds up in some odd neighborhoods. What are some of the stranger venues where you've seen/played concerts? I'd love to hear some stories of how music overcame circumstance (although the old comedic formula of tragedy + time = humor could also play a role here).

Posted by Stephen Ferron at September 14, 2005 6:36 AM


My partner got us a fabulous gig- paid $250!

It turned out to be an early November hay ride with a group of Dutch visitors, who, despite their fabulous education system, did not speak English as a second language.

After re-tuning my 12-string for the upteenth time I abandoned the effort and not even my 'perfect pitch' partner could tell the difference. And yes, my fingers were frozen and in my pockets between every song.

Still, the group seemed appreciative, if somewhat puzzled (as were the folksingers).

Posted by: Scot Witt at September 14, 2005 9:09 AM

I once played the Rig Six Club in Lexington Oklahoma as an acoustic single. The audience was completely mystified, and at one point a drunk from the bar staggered over and turned the jukebox on in the middle of my set.

I figured, what the heck - I get paid the same either way. So I went over to the bar, ordered a beer, and listened to Merle Haggard with everyone else. We got along fine.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 14, 2005 1:12 PM

singin ... blowin in the wind ...baghdad 1998 !!?

crazy .... ?? dunno .... but the band was so good
and the crowd wants to listen ... !!

Posted by: Feter McBlues at September 15, 2005 3:44 AM

I agreed to play once to get a friend out of a jam. He'd landed a job as activities director for a large home for mentally handicapped adults and needed a show on short notice.
The audience was unimpressed with fingerpicking; even train songs didn't hit the spot.
In the middle of "Freight Train" one of the residents ran to the stage, snatched up my playlist, wadded it into a ball and chucked it in the nearest garbage can. At that point, I decided to wing it.
I played "T is for Texas", and when I yodeled the crowd went wild! The rest of the show consisted of every yodeling song I knew. At the end, we all yodeled "Amazing Grace". It was surreal.
I've played there every year since.

Posted by: Jonathan DeBoe at September 16, 2005 8:26 PM

Great story, Jonathan!

Can't yodel- can't take the cultural barriers off.

Posted by: Scot Witt at September 19, 2005 9:05 AM

Not that it's unusual to play a small windowless room in a church on this circuit, but this one was particularly stuffy and small with ceilings only about 15 inches above our heads. (I'm still wondering if the "committee" knew we were relegated to the broom closet.)

The evening began with the "president" (folk committees are very concerned with titles and positions) literally chasing me down the hall to try and get me to eat some homemade yogurt that his wife had made. Explanations of dairy products prior to singing were futile. He was clearly angry and hurt.

Next, a child knocked a candle over and lit a table cloth on fire right before we began playing. I believe someone put it out with, of course, coffee.

Finally, we settled into playing some music and within 5 minutes a very large spider began to drop down on its thread directly in front of my face.

However, once the smoke cleared out of the room, the yogurt snub had been forgotten, and the spider made it to the floor, the audience was particularly receptive and nice.

Posted by: Reality Chick at September 21, 2005 9:23 AM

Arlo is a man who truly cares. T o see him going the extra mile to see that music stays on track is not a surprise to me. I know his father would be very proud and I am sure that he is. Lets all join together with Arlo and see that the music of Newe Orleans continues to be played and heard. Thank You Arlo!

Posted by: Dan Eadie at October 12, 2005 7:54 AM

Late 60's, I and six friends on banjo, washtub bass, guitar, washboard, harmonica and jugs played everything ever done by Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band during the intermission of a rock concert by some Beatles-wannabe's. The kids liked us better.

Posted by: Steve Bulger at November 10, 2005 1:52 PM

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