Monday, October 06, 2008

A Whistler 'Neath the Tree

Ethan and I loaded up a fifteen-passenger van last Friday with enough sound equipment to satisfy a hungry Bruce Springsteen booking agent. Then, with a PCA logo emblazoned on the side, we trekked out to the John Knox Center past Kingston to play music for a middle school retreat. Heaven help us when we do these things, for we inevitably become the de facto coolest people around for the weekend.

All told, I rarely get the opportunity to look cool playing electric. It's probably a good thing. I think that it was really just a blessing to be a blessing to people. I definitely enjoyed the lack of responsibility beyond setting up, breaking down, and playing. Past that, we got to spend quality time with Kim and Donovan (that is, the speaker and her jovial husband), watch the Canadian geese take off like a fleet of winged trombones and belly-flop into the waters of Watts Bar Lake, watch the moon chase the sun down the Western skyline and blush with the hue of a deep flame, and drink gallons upon gallons of mint tea. For me, I think that the highlight was probably playing Vespers for the two nights that we were there. Friday night, after everyone else had gone to bed, I took the tin whistle and stood down on the dock beneath a merrily flung Milky Way full of shooting stars. I played a couple of hymns that tolled across the inlets of the lake while mysterious splashes from tiny Leviathans dotted the shallows.

Saturday night, a passel of folks went with me. We walked a trail along the edge of the lake to the aptly named Vesper Point and stood on the ramparts of a stone wall beneath a weeping willow while I played more hymns and a little improvisational prayer. Beyond the sound of the whistle, there was nothing but quiet. It was the first time in the whole weekend when nobody spoke. Our very silence was the holiest prayer we could have offered. Kudos to Ethan, Adam, and Josh for making the weekend one of brotherhood as well.

Next Friday, if you happen to be in Berea, Kentucky, you should stop by Ground Effects and give ear as Ethan and I play our show there. If you get there late, we might play another show just for you. Wouldn't be the first time, and we don't mind.


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