Granny Can Dance

Granny tapped her foot to the rhythm over and again, as the middle school jazz band hopped through their songs.  Her husband next to her, hearing aid hidden and ball cap on his head, slowly pumping his ring finger to “Sing! Sing! Sing!” but it was granny–with her blue plaid shirt and pink Keds that I watched.

There she was in my mind, twirling on the floor with shimmering eyes, a teasing glint and flirty smile, blue chiffon spinning with a petticoat peeking from underneath, white ankle gloves and matching handbag on the table. Laughing, pearl teeth under red lipstick, as she flows, jumps, and spins around the dance floor, the brass pumping in the background.

Is she remembering the live band?  An icy drink?  A first kiss? A secrert glance?  the smell of gardenias?  They must be happy memories, as her foot continues tapping. 

And I wonder, will I feel this same way in 25 years if I hear the music of my youth?  Or my growing older? or my children?  C


A Ravinia Night

Where were the mosquitoes? I pondered, on a September-like evening at Ravinia last night, enjoying the sounds of British raggae group UB40.  At our house, they would have descended upon all, wreaking havoc on our party.  But here, as seems to be the norm, there were none to be found.  It made for a much more pleasurable night outdoors.

Ravinia is a wonderful outdoor musical theatre, in the north Chicago suburbs.  There is an outdoor pavillion to watch performances, or you can pay a low $15 for lawn seats to picnic and listen to concerts, the symphony, and kids’ concerts.  When I was in high school, lawn seats were only $5, and we went to see a number of concerts, including annually Chuck Mangione and Jackson Browne.  My high school graduation was held on the pavillion stage.

Some of the concerts today still seem like the high school “parties” I remember there from high school, with many large groups  of friends and family coming together, some indulging a bit too much. Now we might have more refined food and beverage than in HS, but I think we have as much fun.  Last night there were many people dancing on the lawn, as I have seen at other concerts in recent years including the B-52’s, The Coors, and Elvis Costello.

It is a little strange sitting in lawn chairs, sipping wine, listening to music over loud speakers.  Couldn’t we do that at home?  Yes, but here we can walk up to the stage if we choose, mingle with our friends, no one has to set up or clean up (other than our small tables), and it is such a relaxing, welcoming ambiance on a beautiful summer night.  Our only time to go this year, we always wonder why we do not go more often.  Summer just slips through our fingers, before autumn rolls in.  It was one more enchanting Ravinia memory to file away, as the UB40 concert surprisingly fizzled to a close rather than ending in triumph.  C

Super Swell Season

Have you seen the awesome Indie film Once?  The sweet story, the wonderful lyrics, the humor and the unlikely heroes simply drags you in and leaves you wanting more at the end.  Two lonely people searching for a touch, a connection, and finding it in the most unlikely way.  A viral success, the music so touched people the song  “Falling Slowly” won this year’s Academy Award for Best Song.

The film’s stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are now touring with a group of talented musicians as the group The Swell Season.  We attended one of their 3 sold-out concerts in Chicago last weekend, and they rocked the Chicago Theatre for 2 hours with songs from the film, new music, and Irish ballads.  The very varied mix of people in the audience (from twenty-somethings to families to couples to seniors to musicians to button-downs) were entertained by Hansard’s humor, Irglova’s shy words with the people, and the musical ranges from mellow to raucous, especially a rendition of an old Van Morrison tune.

Hansard talked about how Chicago has always been supportive of his music, and regaled us with tales and meanings behind the songs. I sometimes felt as if I was in a jam session, their conversations were so informal. I was brought back to being in a pub in Ireland hearing folk singer Christy Moore play, the audience enraptured with every song.

Their amazing fiddle player Colm Mac Con Iomaire played a solo from his new disk. Then The Swell Season’s final encore number was played without microphones, the band first getting the auditence to join in, then making their way through the aisles.

We need more beautiful, thoughtful music like they wrote and played–be it their melancholy sounds, their solos, their duets, or full-force rock sounds of the entire group. C