On Stage at the Russell Opera House

Last week was a busy one for Stringfolks. We played four gigs, including a Friday night concert at the Russell Opera House.

Robert and I went into this gig with an interesting mix of feelings. First of all, this would be the band's first gig ever on a stage. Normally we play in much more informal surroundings, and we couldn't help but wonder if the distance from the audience would make us nervous. Secondly, Russell is where we live, and we have history here. Twelve years ago, Robert was an elected official delivering bad news to the town, and he stood before an angry crowd of a few hundred of our fellow citizens, and they booed and yelled at him. Since then the air has cleared, and Robert goes before the town board regularly to report on an inter-municipal economic development project. Still, we both felt a qualm or two when two of the people who were at the head of the protests a dozen years ago called, and said that they were looking forward to the concert.

We needn't have worried. It was glorious.

The acoustics in the hall are wonderful. When we warmed up, we sang Seven Bridges Road just to hear what those ringing a capella harmonies sounded like in such a place.

A friend took almost all of these pics. He was kind enough to turn the flash off, so a couple of the pics are a little blurry. Please pardon the imperfections.

Here is our set-up. For those into such things, we have five mics, a guitar, a bass, and a banjo that plug into a snake which then plugs into a mixer. We use two Mackie speakers. In this case, we set up a third speaker to be a rear monitor. John, the leader, is the soundman and he is very particular. If you want to make him really happy, tell him we have a clean, warm sound. And we do!

In the center, you can see the cajon. This is a great percussion instrument for a band like ours. Hit it high, it sounds like a snare. Hit it a bit lower, and it sounds like a bass drum. Maggie sits on it, and voila, we have drums.

The view from the stage during set-up and warm-up. Didn't faze me at all.

The name of our program is "Our Town Now and Then". It weaves music around a historical narration that includes pieces of the history of the town where the performance is being held. John puts hours into getting this part of the program ready. In this case, the audience raved about the history. Here the rest of the band is attending while John relates some history.

The North Country's answer to the Andrews Sisters! Three songs featured a female trio of voices. I am amazed that John, Maggie, and Bonnie can sing and play instruments at the same time.

Making music.

Making more music.

It's blurry, but the only pic I have of me playing the flute. I did well on two numbers, and got lost on a third. I need to have my flute bits memorized - I can't manage to both see the music and play straight into the mic. Damn glasses. Damn middle-aged eyes.

We all thought that this was one of our best performances ever.

An internet friend from another site tells people that I am on tour this summer. Maybe so - a most comfortable tour it is, because I get to sleep in my own bed every night.

On to the rest of the week. I'm still crazy busy, but I can smell vacation time ahead.


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