It must be the summertime but every weekend lately has been pretty nonstop. I need a second to just chill at home with a glass of pomegranate white tea, some champagne mangos (my fruit of choice of late) and my computer.
For all the hullabaloo I made about Folksay, I meant to follow up on it but didn’t have a chance til now. It was such a gorgeous production. We went to dinner, then headed over to the Strathmore theater, which, per usual, was a grand affair. Here’s Natalie gracing the hallways with her cute polka dot dress.
Folksay was just a 20-minute portion of the show, and it consisted of Ryan and John Ratliff playing guitar, singing and doing folky arty spoken word, while these amazing dancers pranced around them in dazzling formations. It was such a treat. Ryan and John were mere dots on the stage from where we were. It was neat to see them do theatre too! Here’s a clip of them singing On Top of Old Smokey (the traditional version unfortunately :-P).
The rest of the show was just as beautiful, with dances done to these raw demos of Bruce Springsteen songs. There’s this predictable sequence of events in my life where someone learns I’m a musician, we exchange polite raised eyebrows indicating interest and ‘oh how about that’s’ and we carry on a decently intelligent conversation. Then invariably we start talking classic rock and suddenly it’s like I was born yesterday and I’m Avril Lavigne presenting an award to David BOW-ie. So then the person proceeds to poke fun at me for having lived under a rock all my life ‘You call yourself a musician?’ Sometimes I’ll go listen to some old classic tune (like All Along the Watchtower) that I’ve heard about ad nauseum just to see what it’s all about. And while most of the time I can be utterly moved by the historical and political importance of a song to a particular cultural era, a lot of times I’m like, ‘well shit this ain’t got nothin on The Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls.”
Well, Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad is one song that actually had me reeling over what I’ve been missing my whole life. If ever America was caught on tape it’s right here on this song. It has such an incredible heat to it. It’s a firey red, orange coals kind of color, and whatever blistering chemicals it releases in your brain can really burn for awhile.
I was lucky actually to get to see ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ done a second time at the closing night of Artomatic — a totally different setting than Strathmore. It was hard to believe the difference in the performances, just being in different venues. At Strathmore, the whole dance felt very mysterious and polished. From where we were, Kathryn Pilkington and Bruno Augusto just seemed like graceful little fireflies bending and twisting in elaborate ways and gliding through the air and landing without a sound. At Artomatic, I was probably less than 20 feet away. It was far more intimate, the human element in the dancers was undeniable. I could SEE their faces clearly, and the way Kathryn and Bruno’s leg muscles trembled a little as they held an impossible position for moments. You could see the sweat pooling over time on Bruno’s skin, and probably most impressively you could see the expressions on their faces. Kathryn’s eyes had this way of focusing straight ahead of her but seeming to see nothing physically, just this really desperate, hungry, penetrating look. It made me feel like I knew what it was like to be a bandit, on the run from everything I’ve known. And that’s probably the greatest thing you could ask of a work of art.
Speaking of Artomatic, here’s some artwork: