There are times when I can't explain even to myself what it is that draws me to focus so intently on Sidewalk Cafe. But there are other times when moments of such beauty, grace, and plain fun occur that I can't understand how the rest of the world lives without it.
The last night of the Antifolk Festival provided some of those more awe-inspiring moments. The atmosphere had something to do with it. Sunday was blackout night, which meant that everyone performed without amplification and the room was lit only with candles. Because the performances were unamplified, most of the audience was clustered up front, and it felt a bit like everyone was gathered around a campfire. I missed some of the early sets, but Ray Brown's show in particular provided numerous moments of soulful charm. Ray's songs are deeply emotional, often on unexpected--sometimes harsh-subject matter. His melodies and voice are rich and interesting. In particular I've grown fond recently of his song about an infatuation at Catweazle. On Sunday, Morgan Heringer, sang with Ray from her seat in the audience near the stage on a couple of songs, and something about the sound and vibe, especially the laid back, spontaneous feel of the whole experience was really transcendent. As a little zinger, Ray ended his set with a kind of medley of "I Don't Know How to Love Him," and "Oh Happy Day." 'That's it Ray--throw us off base.' After the frankness of some of his other songs, testaments to Jesus weren't exactly what I was expecting--but we all loved it anyway--and sang along.
There were many other nice moments last night. In particular Rachel Devlin brought us to some ecstatic high points on a couple songs with Dan, and they did a nice cover of Crazy and the Brains's 'Sexy Magazine.'Debe Dalton closed things off. Debe was back on banjo-- Never can get enough of her and it was a nice way to close out the Antifolk Festival. As Debe sang her last song Ben blew out all the candles on stage.
I felt a lot of community spirit throughout the week. For one, three or four of the nights were organized by individual folks from the scene. And then I saw lots of people who came out to shows on many or most of the nights. Congrats and thanks to Ben Krieger for organizing a great week--and for keeping our little world of creativity and fun on track.
By the way, it looks as if I never posted here the link to Myron the Magnificent's video guide to the Antifolk Festival: