Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Good time in Bad Weather

It’s 4:35pm. I hadn’t anticipated this much rain.

Luckily, all festivity isn’t completely over, as there is another hour and 25 minutes remaining until the festival’s official end. From a safe and most importantly dry view, standing underneath a tent directly adjacent to Guild and across from Sowers Hall, there are a couple of performers. This West Virginian Father-daughter duo, Ed and Kathleen Meyers perform a number, playing with what appears to be a banjo and a guitar. My instrumental differentiation skills are lacking, but due to the look and the banjo-like twang-like country sound, I’m taking a wild guess and deeming the instrument as in fact, a banjo. On a first glance what looks like a violin or viola is also present on stage, but I’m aware that it is in fact a fiddle. The sounds of the instruments that are used within the performance are quite unfamiliar to me, but also very interesting. Families are seated within the tent’s vicinity. The audience is small; a quick head count gives me 13 people, most of which are elderly or are children with their parents. The lack of FSU students in the audience surprises me (although not entirely because it is in fact raining cats and dogs.)

The music type is country, specifically folk. The two performers, Ed and Kathleen look content with being there despite the weather and quite diminutive audience size. From around the ways of the upper quad, students come and go. Some depict slight interest in what seems to be going on under the tents from where they stand. But inevitably so, they walk off and go along with their own agendas on this Saturday evening. The audience is attentive if nothing else. I myself feel like I’ve entered some sort of a twilight zone. The music is quite unfamiliar but I find myself enjoying it. There are positive vibes coming from this tent that’s for sure. There’s a sense of ingenuity within their performance and I think one can always appreciate active performers despite what may be viewed as negative surrounding factors such as the weather or small audience size.

It is now 4:51pm and as I look around from underneath the tent there are what seem to no longer be any festivities going on. But down the steps I go and directly in front of Compton Science Center there is another tent performance. Four men who call themselves “Mountain Therapy” are playing some good ol’ Bluegrass. Lonnie Wellman, Tim Custer, Ron Dick and Mike Ash are the four men of “Mountain Therapy” and they’re each playing with either guitars banjos or fiddles while there is one lead singer. The tune is catchy that’s for sure, and I find myself tapping my feet onto the wet and muddy grass as they play a number. I may be feeling this music so much because after all it is, as one of the men of “Mountain Therapy” would say: “Ho-down time.” As they break for a minute in between a number I decide to get a closer look at the audience. Much like the audience under the tent of Ed and Kathleen who are a few feet away, there are mostly families and older people occupy the tent. I decide this is a good time for me to get some audience feedback. A couple of steps away sit a couple of about 50 years old. I ask them what they enjoy most about this particular type of music (bluegrass) The man of the couple responds “This music makes us happy…It’s familiar…It’s relatable and we love it because it feels like home.” His wife or whomever is excitedly smiling and nodding her head, no doubt cosigning his reasoning for enjoying this genre of music. This interaction makes me smile.

A good time indeed.

Being here towards the very end (and no longer than an hour,) I may not have gotten the full experience of the Appalachian Festival. But from what I did see in terms of the two musical tent-performances, I can appreciate the festival for what it was and it makes me happy to know that despite the bad weather so can others.

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