The thing I love about it…

is the shared, common experience.

That’s what dawned on me last night when I took in a charming house concert in PDX with Danny Shafer and Peter Wilde. I’m not a musician, although I’ve played both flute and drums in what feels like another life. Can’t even read music, I’ll bet, these days. (I hate to admit to any illiteracy for obvious reasons.) But there’s something warm and loving about folk music and the people who are drawn to it.

For me, it’s the soft acoustics, which reach across a room and swirl around its audience like curvaceous curlicues, enveloping and resonating in a gentle musical breeze. Such a difference from the hard, fast and loud crowd, which leaves me feeling overblown, as if roughed up by a hurricane.

I also adore the lyrics, simple stories, which evoke laughter, sighs, and, sometimes, tears. It’s such a throwback to our roots as storytellers, when families and friends gathered on front porches or around campfires to sing, strum and dance.

Last night Shafer had to take a break for an unusual reason: He said he was getting overwhelmed by the intimate audience, about 30 or so of us. He wasn’t a beer salesman at a bar, which is how some of my musician friends have described themselves in moments of artistic disgust at the spilled swill and chatter. He was an artist. Appreciated. Listened to. Felt. And with much given back.

While there, I chatted with a musician who talked about overcoming his fear of performing in public — after what he described as a “horrible” first-time experience some eight years ago. It’s like trying to water down a hurtful stray remark to a friend with more positive ones, he said, so that the faux pas isn’t the defining moment — the thing remembered — with that friend.

Also met two Goddard MFA students, both in different programs. And, so, I’ll stop — at least try to — the internal struggle over reason and spirituality, which plays into so much with me. (We each smiled at the not-so-unreasonable coincidence that we’d meet, considering Goddard and all.) I’m reminded of a red and black face, an American Indian painting, that I admired recently. Its divided face represented the physical and spiritual worlds. It’s all there, with us all of the time, I think, separate, but not, like acoustic music and song, there, felt, but nothing you can ever hold in any tangible way.

Enjoy a bit of Danny Shafer, who gave so much of himself during his house concert last night:



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