Minor Leagues are Major Fun

I am very disappointed I am writing this. I was supposed to be on my way to meet Genevieve for a day of Coney Island adventure, but she got caught in standstill traffic. We’ll see if we can recover some of the day. Update, we can’t. We’ll have to reschedule. I know what you are thinking. “Right, this is like when a woman says, ‘I have to wash my hair.'” Stop thinking that. As hard as it is to believe some people actually like me. I don’t know why but they do.

Now I get to tell you about yesterday’s Coney Island adventure. Sometimes things work out like that. Weeks ago, Seth asked who wanted to go to a Cyclones game with him. I jumped in and said yes so, I made the trek from the North Bronx to the southern tip of Brooklyn. It’s almost the trip the Warriors made in the movie. The beauty is that it’s all one train, the Entire length of the D line. I get on at what is usually the second station but the first is closed for construction on the weekend. It took about an hour and three quarters. I arrived right when I was scheduled to. Seth came a few minutes later. We then waited for Seth’s friend Paul and his friend Chelsea. Proving that I remember names and mocking myself when I don’t, helps me remember names. I am far better now than when I was young. As soon as we walked in Seth said hi to his friend Daniel that works a concession stand. He knows Daniel from going to games. That’s why Seth is my friend, he befriends the people that most others ignore. I don’t mean that I’m usually ignored; I’m saying that’s an admirable trait. I’m far to loud to be routinely ignored. To anyone that mentally added, “and far too good looking;” bless you.

The Cyclones were playing the hated Williamsport Crosscutters. What makes them hated? They were playing our beloved Cyclones. The only reason I’m a Met fan is because they have a lot of former Cyclones on the team.

I love minor league baseball. We sat close to the action. The game was played where the blue sky meets the green grass. There’s a delightful tackiness to everything. There’s a view of Coney Island rides and the Parachute Jump. The food is cheaper than at Citi Field, the tickets are much cheaper.

I ran into people I know, Ira and his son Sam. They are in my fantasy baseball league. Sam and I talked trade. We couldn’t work anything out. I just loved that we ran into each other. The park is small enough to make that more likely than at a Major League Stadium.

Seth, his friends, and I had great conversations. Seth has a great interest in both New York and baseball history. He works at the Museum of the City of New York. I need to go there; I haven’t been in ages. We can have obscure conversations without having to explain everything. One problem, Seth and I might no longer be friends, I am not overly fond of A League of Their Own. I don’t dislike it but not one of the greats. The other day I ranked premium ice cream; today I’ll rank baseball movies.

The Natural – The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings- Bull Durham
Pride of the Yankees –
Damn Yankees
Eight Men Out
It Happens Every Spring

I have issues with Field of Dreams, for this list what matters is that it doesn’t feel like a baseball move to me. The entire point of the movie is that Kevin Costner’s character finds out at the end that it’s not about baseball. It says something about my tastes that three of the films are fantasies, one is about the minor leagues, and one is about the Negro Leagues. Only two are about real major league baseball. I need to see Fear Strikes Out again. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid and was too young to appreciate it. I also need to see Moneyball. They might both belong on the list.

The game was very long, and Seth and I left early. I was starved. The Cyclones were winning 5–2 when we left. The final score was 6–2. Who knows where we ate? You should all have your hands up. The one and only original Nathan’s which is different from all other Nathans. I had what I always have, two hot dogs and fries. It sounds pedestrian but it’s not If you haven’t had Nathan’s at Coney Island you have never tasted what I ordered. They are called hot dogs and they are called fries, but they are unlike the hot dogs and fries you get anywhere else. It’s the difference between Pizza Hut and real New York pizza.

I ordered something else from Amazon. I learned from my experience. I had it delivered to an Amazon locker. It’s a short subway ride from here. It’s not as convenient as having it delivered to my door but it’s more convenient than not having it delivered at all.

I did something I haven’t done since I had to leave my room in Crown Heights, I made cold brew coffee. At least I’m in the process of brewing it. I will drink it tomorrow. I should buy ice cream today, so I can make ice creamed coffee. I wasn’t thrilled with the ice cream but the one praise I have for Van Leeuwen is that they serve what they call coffee floats. Ice creamed coffee is a much better name. Today will be about Amazon, shopping, and maybe doing laundry. Not as much fun as Coney Island with Gen but it will have to do.


Sons of the Famous

I’m off to a real late start today. I got home after two and slept late and once again had trouble with the post office, but now I’m ready to rumble. I mean write.

Yesterday was a long day, I went from therapy and seeing my psychiatrist in Harrison all the way down to Brooklyn to see The Kennedys at Jalopy. I had a lot of time in between so I decided to go to Mile End for Poutine. I know I had poutine twice in Sunday but that was not Mile End Poutine, the best in New York. If I’m in Brooklyn and have time, it’s where I eat. The poutine in New Bedford was good but Mile End is special. I have still not had it in Quebec, so I can’t judge it against the real thing, but the owners of Mile End are from Montreal.

I wanted to follow it with special ice cream. I did a search for ice cream nearby. There was an Ample Hill a third of a mile away but in the opposite direction I was going. There was a Van Leeuwen, just a few blocks out of my way so I went there. I have seen them around but never tried them, so this was even better. When I went it, I saw it was pricier than the other premium ice creams, but I had a craving and want to be knowledgeable about Ice Cream in New York. I had the New Your Sundae, coffee ice cream, hot fudge, and cocoa nibs. It was a total disappointment. The ice cream is not at all special, no better than Briars or any supermarket ice cream. It can’t hold a candle to Ample Hills let alone Cones. It was not particularly creamy or flavorful. There was so little hot fudge that it was more of a garnish than a topping. The nibs were the only part that shined; they were great. If you want to spend more money for inferior ice cream go to Van Leeuwen, otherwise go just about anywhere else. I could have had something just as good for half the price across the street at Baskin-Robbins. If you want premium ice cream my hierarchy is.

Cones – Davey’s
Ample Hills – Oddfellows – Eddie’s Sweet Shop
Sundaes and Cones
GromVan Leeuwen and Big Gay Ice Cream are simply not worth the money.
*I have not been to Oddfellows in ages. Last time I checked the had only foo-foo flavors. If a place thinks they are too good for chocolate and vanilla I have objections. I hesitate putting Grom on the list as they are not destination ice cream. I will stop at the Columbus Circle shop because there’s nothing else top quality in the area, but I would never go to their store in the Village as it’s just a few blocks from Cones. Do you have a favorite ice cream shop you think I should try? I might make a page on Word Press for rating ice cream.

After a stop at Trader Joe’s I made my way to Jalopy. It’s a little more than ten minutes away by bus. It always seems so hard to get to, but it isn’t. It is a destination venue, perhaps the best in the City. It’s worth the trip from the Bronx.

The Kennedys have been on a mini-tour with Adam Traum & Colin Gilmore who I was unfamiliar with. Adam is the sun of Happy Traum and Colin of Jimmy Dale Gilmore. I was doing the merch and when people asked I added that Pete and Maura Kennedy were the sons of John F. Kennedy. Yes, both are sons. When bending reality don’t take half measures. There is no spoon.

As a deep in Brooklyn show there were some attendees I don’t usually see at Kennedys shows, David, Carolyn & Peter, and Athena. I was shocked that David had never seen Pete & Maura do a show of their own music. I see David all the time and I see The Kennedys all the time, I had assumed I had seen them together.

Adam & Colin were up first. They are solo performers working together. Neither was particularly reminiscent of their father until they did a Jimmy Dale song; then Colin sounded like his dad. They were excellent, had a great chemistry with each other and with Pete and Maura.

I write about the Kennedys all the time, I see the Kennedys all the time, but yesterday was a first, with an asterisk. Someone liked them so much that he flew in from California just for the show. He flew back today. The show was his only reason for the trip. The reason for the asterisk is that Steve Wozniak flew in from the California to see the CD Release show of Maura’s Solo album, Parade of Echoes. I didn’t find out till the next day that he sat next to me. That was a solo show, so this was the first time someone flew across the country for them as a duo. Next time I invite you to see them don’t give me any crap that the show is too far when it’s an hour away. They are worth crossing a continent for.

My phone’s battery and back up died before the show as over. That meant I couldn’t time the bus back to the subway. It comes every half an hour or so. I left after midnight and was not optimistic. I got to the bus stop less than a minute before the bus. That proves I’m a good person. My subway luck was not as good which is why I got home at 2:15.

Know that package that was supposed to be redelivered by the post office? It wasn’t. They now admit they have no idea where it is. I suspect they never did. Amazon sent a replacement via FedEx. I just got a text, it might not come today. It was already in the Bronx, but they are claiming it’s delayed by weather or natural disaster. The weather is fine and there have been no earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis, or meteor strikes today. This is a conspiracy. I asked my therapist if she’d sign a form saying that I’m legally insane, so I could kill someone at the post office and not go to jail. She said, “no,” but acknowledged that killing people at the post office is close to justifiable homicide.

I have to pick up my meds. How much do you want to bet that FedEx comes while I’m out for the 20 minutes it will take me? Ack, they close at 6. I have to run there. I’ll post this when I get back. I’m back. I lost the bet. The FedEx didn’t come at all. The natural disaster in the Bronx that nobody else seems to know about it prevented it. I’ve been on the phone with FedEx and Amazon since I got back. I’ll write about this tomorrow. One point that might prove useful to you. You can’t order a hit on Amazon; I asked.


Wallace and deGrom it.

I’m starting to write at 10:03 and I’m not sleepy. Today I finish blogging early or die in the attempt. Right after writing that I yawned.

On Wednesday I went to the Met game with Alan. For reasons I’ll get to later I was late. I didn’t arrive till the second inning. I hate that. It didn’t help that the 7 train wasn’t running express and that I didn’t find that out until after I didn’t get on the first local train. Signs up saying that there were no express trains would have been nice. They were doing construction.

The Mets were playing the Phillies. It was a matchup of the two best pitchers in baseball, Jacob deGrom and whoever is facing deGrom. Jacob leads the major leagues with a 1.68 ERA, but his record is only 5–4. The Mets do not score for him and their relief pitchers blow his leads. I just checked and was shocked to discover he has only the 20th worst run support in baseball. To make things worse the Mets fielded a particularly bad lineup without Brandon Nimmo, by far their best player. Alan and I predict the final score and compete to see who does better. I was going to predict the Mets losing 2–1 but decided that was over-reacting and changed it to 3–2. Jacob deGrom pitched 8 innings and didn’t give up a run. He left the game tied, the Mets didn’t score either. The game ran true to form. Nobody scored in the 9th. We went to extra innings. In the tent Mets got two players on with two outs and Brandon Nimmo came in to pinch hit. Guess what he did. Come on guess. He hit a HOME RUN! Alan had the Mets winning 3–2 so he won our game within the game, but it was worth it for the team’s victory. Even in a lost season I root for the Mets to win.

The reason I left late for the game was that I was on the phone with the Amazon and the Post Office. I wrote about this before, a quick recap. Last week I ordered something from Amazon; it was supposed to arrive on Thursday. I got a text from Amazon that delivery was attempted but I had been home all day and they didn’t come. The Post Office said they left a tag in my mailbox, they didn’t. I talked to Amazon via chat and was told that it would be redelivered on Monday as I was going away for the weekend. When I was in New Bedford I got a text that they attempted redeliver, when they weren’t supposed to. On Tuesday I called Amazon and explained what happened. They put me on the phone with the USPS. I was told it would be redelivered on Wednesday.

I waited until the end of the business day and called Amazon again and explained what happened. Once again, they connected me to the post office. The person I talked to said that he put in a ticket for redelivery for Thursday. I told him that’s what I was told the day before, but he said, “no this was a different kind of ticket.” He said that he would fix things. That talk was why I was late. The Amazon Rep told me that if I didn’t get it Thursday that I should call Amazon and they’d overnight me a new order and I’d get it Friday.

Yesterday I got a call in the morning from the post office about the order for redelivery. Unfortunately, it was the Columbus Circle Post Office where I have my PO box. My package was in the Bronx. I had gone through all this with the guy I talked to on Wednesday. The guy that was going to fix everything sent the order into the wrong post office. Columbus Circle told me that they’d forward it to the right one. It was too late. I didn’t get it. It was a week after I was supposed to receive it and I hadn’t. I called Amazon. The customer rep said he’d ship out a new order and that I’d get it on Saturday. I told him, I was promised it would be overnighted and I’d get it Friday. I was going to stand my ground; I had been through too much. He checked with his supervisor. It wasn’t available to be sent overnight but he’d tell the post office to resend the original. I told him that I had enough and that I wanted the new order sent too, that I’d get on Saturday and I wanted to not pay for it. He said, that I beat him to it and that was what he was going to offer. He then went further and told me that I would be refunded my entire Amazon Prime subscription. That’s over $100. I told him that he did a great job. When he asked if there were anything else I could do I said, “Kill somebody at the post office.” He laughed and said that he wished he could. That’s how you do customer service.

Yesterday I went to Jane and Bernie’s to clear out the rest of my things. Jane drove me up to Melissa’s, I forgot her nom de blog, who had my other things stored and I left my winter clothes at her house and picked up some other things that I had left there. Now I have to unpack. I discovered that the coffee I had ordered had been sent to Jane’s. I thought I had it sent to my PO Box. I was wondering where that was. I am almost out and not having coffee would be a tragedy. I could buy at Trader Joe’s but Ahrre’s is better. It is the official coffee of Wise Madness. That’s because I love it. I should start selling sponsorships; John Deere, the official tractor of Wise Madness. I’m not sure what I’d do with a tractor. Maybe Tesla will give me a car if I say they are the official car. Ice cream and chocolate companies should be falling all over themselves to be my sponsor. I would do it for free ice cream.

I had been thinking of having a birthday party but found that I already had plans the weekend after my birthday. In fact, I had plans every day but my birthday. Then yesterday I found out that Tomoko Omura’s new band is playing that night so I’m going to celebrate by seeing them.

Yes! I’m finishing this before 11. My reward is breakfast.

July Blips

I figured out why I’m getting such late starts writing; it’s a combination of two things. First, I’ve not been getting enough sleep, secondly the recliner I write in here is so comfy I fall asleep in it. No, I’m not going to move over to a desk. I will not give up my comfy chair. I will try and get more sleep and perhaps I’ll make my coffee when I wake up instead of after I write.

Now to continue to play catch-up; it’s Thursday and I’m writing about Tuesday. It was not just Tuesday but the second Tuesday of the month; My Regular Gentle Readers know that means I went to John Platt’s On Your Radar. This month’s artists were The Brother Brothers, The Wiggins, Sisters, and Joshua Garcia.

I got there even earlier than usual. I always go down during sound check to make sure things are running smoothly. After seeing that things were under control I had to make a phone call. I couldn’t do it in Rockwood 3 as they were sound checking. The room on top of Stage 3 was noisy. They just started sound checking in Stage 2 so not only was that noisy but the hall connecting Stages 2 and 3 was loud. I lucked out. Somebody had left the door to the green room open and I ducked in there; I had found my phonebooth. I need to learn the door’s pin, so I can do that all the time. I’m not going to really do that. I understand Gordon Privilege and its limits. I also feel guilty when I use it.

On Your Radar sold out; this is the fourth time in five months. Somebody is doing a great job promoting the series on social media. Modesty forbids me from telling you who that is. There even seemed to be more chairs in the room than usual. I have to ask John if that were true. They might have simply been arranged differently. Many of my friends and friends and family of the performers could not get in. A few got in late after some people had left. As usual I sat with Fred and we were joined by Marty.

Joshua aka JR was up first. He is the epitome of what On Your Radar is about. Joshua is almost totally unknown, he doesn’t even have an EP. I discovered him through Lara Ewen at Free Music Fridays and told John about him. Graham and Barbara Dean saw him at the People’s Music Network and presented him at the DJ showcase at NERFA. That’s where John saw him. He was new to almost the entire audience. As has happened every time I’ve seen him he was a revelation to the first timers. He is the total package, a brilliant songwriter who evokes Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Dar Williams, a beautiful singer at times reminiscent of Roy Orbison, and a disarming stage manner. He has the added skill of playing an acoustic guitar without a strap while standing. His songs have a lot of words. The genius is that they are the right words and even more importantly he has something to say. Some are political, some are personal, but never of the “I’m so sensitive” variety. He combines the personal and political with a song about his grandmother coming to America from Mexico. Watch out for him. If you are at Falcon Ridge you can see him at the Budgiedome. There are artists that I feel the need to champion, he is one of them.

The Wiggins Sisters have the opposite back story. They have been making music for years but in an on-again-off-again manner. I think there was 18 years between albums. They came with a band, an electric guitarist and a drummer. Despite the instrumentation they were pure folk. They reminded Fred of the Nields. My favorite song of theirs was performed a Capella with body percussion provided by the band and audience.

The Brother Brothers, Adam and David Moss are friends and favorites of mine but do not need me to champion them. They have already toured opening for Sarah Jarosz. I know them because they are part of “The Scene.” That’s a term I picked up from the New York Times, a community of bluegrass and old-time artists that can now be heard on Chris Thile’s radio show, Live from Here. I know them from the Brooklyn division of the scene. They have been friends of friends since they came to New York. Before they started playing together I saw Adam playing with my friends. Then David came here, and I saw him playing with my friends. It took me a while to realize they were two different people; they are identical twins. Or are they? Only David was there for sound check. He played the part of both of them. I now suspect that John Oliver is right, but about the wrong twins.

Adam plays the fiddle and David the cello and guitar. They have exquisite voices that combine to make more exquisite harmonies. They were designed to make John Platt love them; harmony and cello are both in his sweet spot. They don’t rely on their sound, which they could. For many people a beautiful sound is enough. Not for me, I want songwriting and variety and they provide it. They can lead with their voices or their instruments, they even have funny patter. I’d tell you to look out for them but I’m pretty sure you’ll soon be able to find them without making an effort.

I have nothing exciting planned for today. Just moving more of my things out of Jane and Bernie’s apartment. Tomorrow I’ll write about last night’s great Met Game and my continuing battle with the Post Office and FedEx.

New Bedford or The Whale

I have so much to write about and so little time. The chronoklepts worked very hard today, it’s 2:16, I like to start writing before 10 and I’m going out tonight. I have no idea how I will every catch up. The one essential step is to start.

Today I finish the Saga of the New Bedford Folk Festival; the literary heir of Moby Dick. I pick up the epic tale on Sunday morning. It’s now 3:06, I lost another hour. This is ridiculous. 3:34 now. Let’s try again.

On Sunday Mike and I had to drive in ourselves as we were leaving straight from the festival. This provided absolute proof that we are good people as we found free street parking just blocks from the Zeiterion Theater. What you didn’t know that good parking is how virtue is rewarded? I thought everyone knew that. As soon as we got out of the car we saw people with guitars, it was Cliff and Louise; not only did we get great parking but we got great company as we walked. I need to write a blog about community; the essence is that the more you take part in an activity the more you get involved in the community around it, and that’s its own reward.

I started the day at the Zeiterion for The Best of Times, the Worst of Times; songs of life’s challenges and victories with Keith Murphy, Amy Speace, Garnet Rogers, and Paul Rishell & Annie Raines. Paul and Annie came highly recommended and I had to check them out. I took advantage of my premium pass and sat in the first row with my benefactress Karen. Paul and Annie were excellent but were not a revelation. Annie is an amazing harmonica player. I can’t bring myself to call it a harp without feeling self-conscious. I know it’s what blues players call it but I also listen to people that play that instrument with the strings that the angels play.

I stayed in my seat for Connla. They are officially one of my bands now. One of them plays the harp. See how confusing it would be if I called the harmonica the harp? More Irish bands should have harps. The harp is the heraldic symbol of Ireland used on its coat of arms. They also have a bodhrán and uileann pipes. Did I mention they are Irish? The only band I know from Northern Ireland. There are plenty more but I haven’t seen them.

Next up was the all-important stop for lunch. Gary had told me that there was poutine to be found in New Bedford. A quick check on Google told me that one of the places that served it was the Greasy Luck, one of the festival venues. I couldn’t resist that. It was not traditional, it was served with pulled pork not smoked meat but it was poutine! I loved it. Pulled pork works.

This worked out perfectly as my next stop was the Purchase Stage which was right outside the Greasy Luck. I went there to see And I Followed My Footsteps: my musical origins featuring Ronny Cox, Brooks Williamson, Kristin Andreassen, Peter Mulvey, and Cliff Eberhardt and to hang with Joe and two of his daughters. The others were with Emily.

That reminds me of something I can’t place chronologically but cannot be forgotten. When I walked by one of the food trucks I saw Cliff and Louise. Cliff ordered a hot dog, that’s fine. He put ketchup on it! I told him that as a Jewish New Yorker I was aghast. I can forgive Louise for not knowing it’s a sin, she’s a gentile from the south, but Cliff is Jewish and lived in New York for 20 years. It shows you what a good person I am that I still love Cliff. And that’s why we got the good parking.

Why do I have any friends?

Why do I have any readers?

That was one of the best workshops I’ve attended. They played off each other so well and made great choices of songs. I was particularly gratified that Joe loved Kristin. I knew he would. He gave her a standing ovation after her first song. She didn’t sing. She didn’t play. She had Brook Williams play the guitar part from the song he had just performed, and she danced to it. She came to music through dance. Ronny Cox’s wife is a PhD in one of the sciences and she wanted him to write a song with intellectual content. So he wrote a song in my favorite genre, silly science, We’re Talking Facts. It’s facts about the solar system. It fits in with Christine Lavin’s Planet X and Mark Allen Berube’s. Higgs Bosong. I want someone to do that as a set. The entire workshop was what a song swap is supposed to be.

When I first arrived in the morning I went to check out the flavors at the Acushnet Creamery stand. They were the same as the day before and I told the young woman there that I’d be back later and order Cookie Monster and Cookies and Cream. After the workshop Mike and I went over to the stand and I told Mike what happened and that she would remember my order. When we got there we were served by her mother but I said, “As your daughter what I’m getting.” The daughter got it right! Now I challenged her to remember for next year. That I’m not betting on.

I had planned on seeing Emerald Rae next but as I wanted to meet with he VanMerc clan Kristin Andreassen was easier, it was outdoors and Emerald in a theater. Kristin’s stage was right out the door from Emerald so I got to see the first part of her set. Emerald is now one of my artists. That’s three I picked up at the festival, Emerald, Connla, and Mile Twelve.

Then I was back to the Purchase Stage to see Kristin Andreassen’s solo set. This time I was joined by Emily and all the kids but not Joe. Once again Kristin was a hit. She wowed every audience she performed for. I kvelled.

We were sitting in the back because of the kids. This way they had room to run around and if they talked weren’t going to bother people. We were not under the tent and that proved fortunate as so many things did this weekend. I looked over at Emily and saw a head of hair I recognized walking down the street. It was Cassie. Cassie wasn’t at the Festival but she lives in New Bedford and she came to meet me for dinner. We didn’t have to search for each other or use our phones because I spotted her. Cassie worked security at the Main Stage at Falcon Ridge last year and me being me and Cassie being Cassie we became friends. She’s getting her doctorate in Math Education; she’s my people. Also as I’m me, we are engaged. As we were discussing that at FRFF, Emily, not Emily from New Bedford, Emily Seth’s fiancée, walked by gave me a hug and said, “Hi fiancé!” I have a complicated love life or maybe no love life but very understanding friends.

Emily and I went to dinner. As we were right in front of the Greasy Luck, a place she likes, and I didn’t have that much time, that’s where we ate. Guess what I had. Yes! You know me so well. I had poutine again. This was my first real quality time with Cassie and it went well. Inviting someone I don’t know well to dinner is outside my comfort zone but it’s something I know is good for me. I’ve been doing it with musicians for a while and now with Cassie. I’m glad I didn’t take the easy route and just grab some grub. Her company was so entertaining that I didn’t run out so as to not miss the beginning of the Celtic Extravaganza, that always closes the festival.

The non-existent gods were with me, I got to the Zeiterion late for the Extravaganza but they started late. I came in during the opening number. The Bourque Emissaires played while Benoir Bourque, Kristin, and Emerald step danced. I could have sat in the first row but instead sat with the VanMerc clan in the back. It’s always as much about the community as the music. The other acts in the Extravaganza were Connla, Musique a bouches, J.P. Cormier, Emerald Rae, and Jeremy Kittel Trio. It’s hard to not have a great time with so many Celtic musicians on stage. It always ends with the artists parading out of the theater followed by the audience.

When I got to the lobby I found Michael, said my goodbyes to everyone else, and we headed home. We arrived at my apartment at 1:30 AM. Home is the sailor home from the sea and the folky home from the festival.

No time now but I have to write about last night’s John Platt’s On Your Radar. I’m off to see the Mets tonight. Some day I’ll catch up.

Music Discovery Starts Here

I left you with my arrival at the New Bedford Festival. I have a schedule here, so I will at least remember the music. What I’m afraid I’m going to forget is some of my meetings with friends. That’s is half the fun of festivals.

The New Bedford Folk Festival is set up a bit different than any other I’ve been to. It’s held right in the historic Whaling Museum district. There are seven stages, you can always find something you like. Four of the stages are indoors, safe from the elements. Even the outdoor stages have most of their seating under cover. This year the weather was perfect and the only protection we needed was from sunburn. I don’t believe the temperature ever went over 80° or under 65°. You couldn’t ask for more.

I started the day at the Custom House Stage for the He laughed, Clicked His Heels & Stepped Workshop; the artists were Kristin Andreassen, Emerald Rae, and Mustard’s Retreat. Part of the fun of workshops is that they just give them a name and the artists have to figure out what they mean. This name is a song reference; do you get it? Don’t feel bad, I don’t think anyone did but Libby Glover, or maybe Michael Hough, from Mustard’s retreat. It’s from the song, Mr. Bojangles. The order was Kristin, Emerald, then Mustard; the first two thought of it as songs about dance, the last funny songs. Kristin and Emerald are both cloggers, so that was natural for them.

Kristin is the one I know by far the best, I’ve seen her scores of time and she’s a friend. We didn’t remember it but Emerald and I had corresponded when she was in Annalivia. I am a fan of her music. I saw Mustard’s Retreat at my first Falcon Ridge, they are named checked in Moxy Früvous’s Beware the Killer Tents but I have seen them only at festivals.

Kristin and Emerald accompanied each other, and Kristin danced while Emerald played. That was natural. Then Mustard’s retreat did a funny song. Emerald declared that she’s from the “Island Nation of Gloucester” so in true song swap fashion Libby said that Mustard’s Retreat was from “Peninsular Republic of Michigan.” They did a song about the state bird, the mosquito and challenged Kristin to follow that. If you have read my blogs on Kristin you should know as well as I the song she followed it with, the greatest song ever written, 13 Wolverines. Michigan is the Wolverine State; the song is simultaneously hilarious and charming. The crowd lost it. The other artists lost it. I kvelled. Emerald said that she doesn’t write funny songs because her sense of humor is twisted. My response was, “Then I want to hear you do funny songs.” She demonstrated her twisted humor to me in conversation, I was right, I love it.

After the set I went backstage, that just means behind the tent, to say hi to Kristin and to introduce myself to Emerald. She’s is one of the emerging artists at Falcon Ridge, an Emergo, as I put it, and will be playing the Budgiedome and camping with us. That’s how I discovered her sense of humor. Then I became Kristin’s roadie as she and Emerald had to bring her merch over to the Zeiterion Theater where the merch tables were set up. From there I went to the Greasy Luck, a café with a theater, where the Kennedys were playing. That’s where I arranged to meet Emily, Joe, and the kids. Part of the joy of New Bedford is hanging with the VanMerc clan. The room was packed, no seats left, and I found Emily outside the door with their two-year old. We went in for the Festival highlight. The annual Kennedys VanMerc Sisters rendition of Stand. This started four years ago when Maggie and Cate ran on stage at one of the small tents and joined in the “Allah Buddha Yahweh … ” chant. Now they are invited up, are joined by Elie, and even sing a verse. Watching that is worth the trip up there. I kvell along with Joe and Emily. Other people’s kids and pets are the best. You only have to deal with them when they are fun, when they become difficult it’s back to the parents.

We were joined by Mike and had our traditional New Bedford Pizza lunch. Getting friends together with other friends is wonderful. There’s a lot of wonderful to go around.

After lunch Mike and I went over to the Whaling Museum to see Though My Story’s Seldom Told with Amy Speace, James Keelaghan, and Matthew Byrne. Mike couldn’t get it, that was packed. I could because I had a Premium Pass. I went in with Perry who was soon joined by Beth. I got the very last seat in the house. It was down front, so I couldn’t complain. This was my first time seeing Amy since she became a mom earlier this year; Amy had just turned 50. That warranted a write-up in Modern maturity. When Amy lived here I saw her all the time both musically and socially. Then she moved to Nashville and I rarely see her. It’s been a couple of years; the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other since we met in 2003. She still has it. Being on the road constitutes a rest for her, she got to sleep 10 hours straight, you can’t do that with an infant.

The only one new to me was Matthew Byrne from Newfoundland. He did a song about destructive storm with the refrain, “Great Big Sea!” That must be where the band got their name from. I can’t believe I didn’t know that.

I then gave myself some free time to wander around, find an ATM, and get ice cream. I love spending time with friends, I love listening to music, I also love alone time taking it easy. Need I mention that I love ice cream? The Acushnet Creamery had a booth in the vender area by the Zeiterion. They had limited but interesting flavors, the only ordinary one was vanilla. I had Cookie Monster and Cookies and Cream. Cookie Monster is espresso ice cream with Oreo pieces in it. The creamery ice cream was wonderfully creamy.

Instead of seeing Cheryl Wheeler for the 20th time I decided to check out Mile 12, a bluegrass band. I adore Cheryl, she’s one of the greats that I feel a connection to, but I will always have opportunities to see her again.

I was rewarded for being adventurous, I loved Mile 12, they were one of my two great discoveries at the Festival. At first, I liked them; It’s bluegrass, I like bluegrass. As I listened they separated themselves from the crowd. They were more than generic bluegrass that I like, they are a band that I love. As many bluegrass bands do they play around a condenser mic and keep changing positions. The bass player was in the back and I couldn’t see him. Then he came forward and I knew him. I couldn’t get his name out, I was thinking, “Nathan” but then Noah Garbedian’s name got stuck in my head and forced everything else out. He is also a tall dark bass player from New York that plays with friends of mine. He’s in Silver City Bound.

I knew I knew the bass player. I was pretty sure his name began with an N, I knew I met him at Spiral Sounds concerts. I knew I talked to him quite a bit there and hit it off with him. I just couldn’t get his name or who he played with. Then it hit me, he accompanied Mari Black. I adore Mari; it says something that he grabbed enough of my attention to make an impression. Turns out his name is Nathaniel “Nate” Sabat. He lives in MA but he’s from NYC. I got the New York part right. After the set I went “backstage” and his first words were, “Gordon, I didn’t know you’d be here.” To which I responded that I didn’t know he was with Mile 12 and admitted I didn’t remember his name. It’s not easy being an idiot. Sometimes it takes courage.

We hung out for a while then I went back in the tent to see Crisscrossing the Pond with The Mammals and Connla. One of my goals each New Bedford Folk Festival is to discover a new Celtic Band. This year the potential was Connla; they fulfilled their potential. They are from Northern Ireland. Just seeing the instruments was enough to get my interested, uillean pipes, bodhrán, harp, flute, and guitar. Notice what it missing? No fiddle.

The Mammals continue on their roll from Clearwater. That wasn’t a fluke, they have taken it to another level. Don’t judge them from the old Mammals. Don’t judge them from Mike + Ruthy. The reborn Mammals are built on those foundations, but they are greater than either.

I made friends with the woman sitting next to me during that set. She lives out in Port Jefferson but grew up in Rego Park. Her oldest kid is about my age. She knew “the barracks” the temporary housing built for returning veterans where my parents lived after WWII until they bought the house I grew up in. She knows Charlie Backfish and the Kennedys. The strange thing is that even though her oldest kid is my age her parents are my parents’ age. My family skipped a generation. She was a child bride and my parents were old when I was born.

During the set I couldn’t get my hair out of my eyes. She didn’t see any hair in my eyes. Then I realized what it was. During the set a giant floater got loose in my right eye. A capillary must have burst and bled into the vitreous humor. It’s still there and interfering with my vision. Nothing can be done about it. If it were getting worse, I’d worry, but it isn’t. I mentioned it jokingly on Facebook and people are worried. At some point I have to see an ophthalmologist about my cataracts so maybe this will get me to do that sooner. Now that I’m writing about it, it’s become particularly annoying. .

After the set I went to talk to Connla. I wanted to get a CD to give to the Irish shows at WFUV, but they didn’t have any on them. I saw them but didn’t talk to them on Sunday, so I never got one. I’ll have to write to them.

I was going to meet the VanMercs for dinner but there was miscommunication. My new phone stopped giving me alerts about messages. I must have somehow changed the setting, so I missed Emily’s message until it was too late. I ended up eating alone. I wanted comfort food and something fast. Google found me Mary’s, a few blocks away. I went in for hot dogs but ended up getting a steamed cheeseburger. I’m not thrilled with steaming, but their add-ons are the appeal. I had mine with Fritos, jalapeno, tater tots, Cajun and creole spices, and one other ingredient I forgot. They are all free except for the tater tots which were 75¢. That’s my kind of meal.

I then tried to go in to see Tom Rush at the Zeiterion, but it was full. That’s the one problem with New Bedford, it’s grown too big for the facilities. I had to wait around for the rest of my party, so I went into the premium lounge. The only people in there were musicians. That’s fine, I was friends with many of them. I hung out with Cliff and Louise, they stalked me all weekend as did Emerald. Then I mingled and ended up talking to Nate who wanted to see Tom Rush. We couldn’t get into the auditorium, but they let us backstage to watch from the wings. That is my life. I find myself treated like a VIP when I’m not. Nate had to vouch for me and that was enough.

Tom was accompanied by the lovely and talented Matt Nakoa on piano. I’ve seen Matt countless times. I’ve been right next to him when he’s played, but I never heard his footwork before. You know how some Celtic fiddlers will do foot percussion while they play? Matt does it when playing piano. His feet do a dance while he plays. The floor there must have been particularly resonant as it worked as a percussion section. Did anyone in the auditorium here it or was it because I was on the same floor as him that I heard it?

After a bit we went back into the lounge. After I had spent most of the set there socializing and scarfing down food, hey it’s me, there were cookies and cheese thingamabobs, one of the employees came over to me and told me that she just noticed that I wasn’t a musician and that this was a private party. She wasn’t pushy, but I knew that mean it was time for me to leave. That was just as Tom finished his set and I had to go out and meet my friends anyway. Things worked out perfectly.

There was some more miscommunication, Gary and Mike didn’t get my text telling them where I was waiting for them. They were waiting for me by the exit of the theater. I was at the corner. Luckily Kathy came by. Once again things worked out better than planned. She told me where they were, and it gave me some time to talk to her and meet her son Daniel. I love Kathy and could always use quality time with her. Her son is in the foreign service and is fascinating. So sure, I was blind in one eye and my stomach kept acting up and there were miscommunications, but it was a perfect day.

I guess I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to tell you about Sunday. John Platt’s On Your Radar is tonight. It better be uneventful, I don’t know when I’ll get to write about it.

The Game of Stages

I’m home from the New Bedford Folk Festival and filled with tales to tell. It’s been a while, but this was worth waiting for. It would be nice if I remembered what happened; at least I have my marked schedule, so I can fake the music. The story you are about to read is true, the memories have been changed to protect the idiot. That’s me.

I am a pro at procrastinating but I’m never late. What I will do is use all the time that kept as a safety margin. I never pack until the last minute. After I packed I had to change the cat litter and make sure the cats had enough food and water for the weekend. By the time I was ready to leave it was too late to make the MetroNorth train I wanted to get to therapy. That was one of my planned delays. If I miss that train I can take the next one, the downside is that means I have to pay for a cab once I’m in Harrison. The bus runs only once an hour. Because I was carrying my things for the weekend I did not have my usual routine when leaving. I didn’t do my pat down till I was out of the building and down the street. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my phone with me. I had allowed myself time for that. Even with going back I got to the station 5 minutes before the train was scheduled. It takes intelligence to plan in advance for being an idiot. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Mike picked me up after therapy and we started on our way to Assonet (A-sewn-ette) MA where we were crashing with Gary. Our first thought was to stop at Apizzaria Modern in New Haven, but they were closed for the week. Instead we had a late dinner at the excellent Durk’s in Providence. That was recommended by Jess. I trust Jess when it comes to pork, the cuisine is barbecue. Mike and I split brisket and ribs. The ribs were very good, but the brisket was exceptional. We gave the place two thumbs up.

Yes, I am really giving the details of the food and traveling on the way to the Festival. I was debating this and decided that this is what distinguishes Wise Madness from other music blogs. It’s about my subjective experience.

Providence is only a short way form Assonet, we managed to make it take a long time. First Mike’s GPS started directing us into the Taunton River. We switched to Google Maps on my new phone. Somehow, I had it stop at Somerset as in intermediate destination. Somerset is on the wrong side of the river, so we crossed over to the wrong shore. Then I saw it was directing us to Somerset. I changed it back to Gary’s house. Great plan but the phone couldn’t find the satellites. Neither could Mike’s GPS. We finally got it straightened out and arrived at his house 40 minutes later than we should have. Gary is a mensch and welcomed us with open arms. He’s enough of mensch to invite us back, this was our second time staying with him; if you know Mike and I you know that’s not a challenge most people are up to.

Mike had three other house guests. I know them all, they all know me. I am not going to admit something I didn’t admit all weekend. I forgot their names. I usually just ask when I do that. It’s the right thing to do. But when you walk in a room and everyone goes, “Hi Gordon!” it’s not so easy. Gary what are their names. Once I have them I’ll know which is which

We had to make an early start the next morning, so we went to bed soon after we arrived. In the night I had my first misadventure, a Crohn’s attack. It wasn’t the kind I’ve had since I’ve been blocking. It wasn’t an obstruction causing stomach pain. It was an inflammation causing my temperature to quickly rise. I didn’t take my temperature, I knew that because I had severe chills; I was shivering. I wish I knew there was another blanket in the end table by my bed. I would have used it. I prepare for these things, I had prednisone and Tylenol with me and took both. I was determined to not spend the next day in bed. I was up for hours but I finally fell asleep and when I woke up I was hot and sweaty; my fever had broken, and I felt fine.

I was so fine that I had a big breakfast. That is part of the New Bedford with Gary experience. We all have a nice hot breakfast together. It was eggs, sausages, and homemade bread. Gary is a man of many talents, Math professor, music aficionado, baker, and cook. The company was as good as the food, I’m an idiot but the rest are brilliant. I love a conversation where people can make obscures scientific or historic references and people get them. Even better, people are curious about everything. Much of our conversation was about word origins.

I’m over 800 words in and we haven’t gotten to the Festival yet. People don’t mind that George Martin takes forever to tell a story. At least you aren’t going to have to wait years for me to finish this. The HBO series, The Song of Banjo and Fiddles will be only two seasons. Let me know who you want to play you. When the unattractive Cole Porter was asked who the wanted to play him in the movie he said, Cary Grant, and they got him for the role. I’m going for Brad Pitt to play me.

We wanted to get to the Festival early as for the first time the City of New Bedford is charging for parking in the lots. We went in two cars, so finding a spot was Gary’s job. We found one that wasn’t too far away. It was closer than we realized because they moved where festival check in was. We walked to the far side of the festival to learn that we had to go back to close to wear we ended the historic whaling museum district.

Mike had to buy a ticket, I had to find Karen, she had mine. She and her husband Jeff were regulars at the festival and got premium passes. Jeff died suddenly four months ago. That was not just a tragedy but a shock; he was so full of life. He and Karen heard more live music than me. Karen knew I was appreciate Jeff’s ticket and offered it to me. I was never unhappier to get comped.

Thanks to the glory of cell phones I found her, and we got our passes. I found out that the premium passes didn’t just give us access to the front seats of some of the stages but a t-shirt and use of the premium pass lounge. It’s like flying first class.

Then we all went our separate ways to hear the music wanted. This is where I’m going to leave you. I have things to do. Like Game of Thrones the first episode is just an introduction. Unlike Game of Thrones, the entire first season won’t be. Next entry, either tomorrow or maybe even later today I will start in on the music, people, and food at the festival. Hey, it’s me, there will still be food.