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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cain's Ballroom

 The only set piece in my trip West this summer was the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, OK (his birthplace). I had passed through Okemah last summer one week before the festival and vowed that I would return. The first event this year was a fundraiser in Tulsa featuring Crosby/Nash and I had bought my ticket a few months back. I had also booked a room at a B&B that was just a few blocks away. I really didn't know much about either the music venue or the mansion but it ended up that I had given myself a real treat. This will be the crowning point, I think, of the first leg of the journey.
 My room was lovely, the home is enchanting and I was the only guest. Francoise, the hostess makes the croissants herself and gave me a menu to choose from for breakfast. Yum.  I immediately headed for the garden pool and swam off the pain and the angst both of driving and from my visit to Joplin. I will go back to those memories but tonight is special.
 Just a few blocks down the hill a whole different world (old, old part of town) was revealed and I eagerly parked the VW and looked for a place to get a bite. There was already a long line of folks waiting for the doors to open but it was over an hour away so I walked on and found The Hunt Club - Pub and Grub, strollewd and at sat at the bar and immediately started meeting people who were going to the festival tomorrow or who were native Tulsans and going to the show and they were all so friendly. I had a local brew - Marshall's - enjoyed the social atmosphere (I was thirsty!) and then headed back to the concert. I didn't realize that my ticket was general admission so now I knew why all those people had been waiting in line. I also did not realize that I was going to an historic ballroom where Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys held court along with all kinds of oldtime stars, including Hank but on into the decades. All night long people told me their stories of who they had seen there.
Well, I saw Crosby/Nash doing an acoustic show with David's son as the only other band member. Have you read David's biographies? The story of him meeting his son is rich. He added a third vocal that blended like fine wine to David and Graham. Half of the songs had the audience singing along and we wept and cheered at the sentiments of their anti-war, anti-fascist government lyrics from 40 years ago that seem oh, so relevant today. David is still angry. David is still mellow and both David and Graham sang like angels.

The hall was wonderful. I saw Jimmie LeFave in the audience and he told me I had hit the heart of Oklahoma. Hey, that's what he told me about Texas when I saw him at Greune Hall outside of Austin. I think I've got a little lucky thing going on. It was a wonderful night. I pub crawled a bit with the "mayor," on the folks I sat with and then headed back to the mansion. I had my own balcony, although it was still pretty hot at 1:00 am.

Now I am heading out to Okemah and I will not be online or blogging for several days. I will be sweating a lot and drinking lots of water. Afternoon concerts are inside, evening concerts out. Some of the music happens in a honky tonk of some sort. From what I hear, some of the best music will be right in my campground. And, you know I'll be taking part a little bit myself. Too much fun.

Adios, amigas and amigos.

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