He thought maybe the sound of the Eagle Creek Reservoir was the featured performer. Nature’s expectant sound dominated the air, surrounding- cradling, really, the little music festival. It was what came to Greg’s mind when he thought of “Hoosier”: an open still space. It had boundaries, forests like baseboard’s against the sky, but quiet. He was too use to the city sounds, and the natural noises and lower tension of Eagle Creak park were a welcome change.
The usual sounds of people fishing, picnicking and boating were joined by the gentle breeze of folk music. It all blended well together. Had someone not known about the music festival on the marina, one could be oblivious of it until the music started on occasion. Even then, it was soft enough to tune out by turning up your Ipod. Greg didn’t tune it out. He was looking for it. The Central Indiana Folk Music and Mountain Dulcimer Society was celebrating a hot June day out on the marina in the park. It was small scale without question. This was an amateur group who found fun where it had dwelled for years in old tunes and acoustic instruments. The amplifiers were modest and the noise was low. Most of the sound washed over the meager audience and got lost somewhere over the lake.
The crowd was not big or young or rowdy. Many seemed like they’d been installed like lawn sculpture, sitting on brightly colored lawn chairs with drink coolers attached. Not all were old, but everyone was content and listened intently as performers took the stage and sang or played before they returned to their folding chairs on the lawn with the rest of the audience. They were friendly.
“Hey there,” sang came a warm voice. “ I’m glad you are here. “What’s your name again?” The man reached out his hand.
“ Greg. Remind me of yours again.”
“ I’m a Greg too.” He said and shook his hand firmly. “ Did you just get here?” Silver struggled with neatly cut brown hair. The lake reflected off his glasses. Greg Nodded. “ You have a case, what’s in it?”
“Oh good, I thought it was another dulcimer” He laughed. “ Are you going to get up on the stage.”
“ Only if the Big Band plays.” Said Greg.
“They have a set coming toward the end of the day. Yeah, we can always use another fiddle. I’ll be up there with my guitar. Glad you are here.” The other Greg ran off to his folding chair.
A few people were playing on the far side of the stage beneath picnic tables covered by tarps and tents.
He watched a group of guys, actually some of the youngest there, play
some Irish tunes and they made jokes the whole while. After they played
they retired to a tent to start a jam session. Greg walked over to join
them. Quick introductions and they started playing a tune. This was a
very democratic session. They went around the circle, each person naming
a tune and then playing. Greg felt at a loss, he didn’t know the names
of the tunes he knew. He had only recently started playing. Five years
of picking up the fiddle on an occasional weekend. He played along with
the folk music radio stations. He’ld recently discovered the music
channels on YouTube. There was likely some other amateur playing a song,
any song, at a slow enough pace for him to learn the tune. Yeah,
everything was on YouTube!
But these were live people with instruments of their own. He quickly realized that one didn’t just show up to a jam session like at a spectator concert. One needed to bring his repertoire too.
“ Your turn,” said a 77 year-old fiddler who had played for 73 years.” Pick a tune.”
Greg was clueless. He had exhausted all the ones he knew by name. They had played the Arkansas Traveler, the Rumbling Waterfall, Shenandoah Creek. The Magpie and Nail that Catfish to a Tree. Greg spoke out with confidence,
“ How about the Crow’s Nest?” The man’s face lit up a little.
“ How does that one go?” As though after all these years, he was going to learn a new tune. The Dulcimer player next to him leaned in. “ I’ve never heard of that one.”
“ Me either,” said Greg. “I just called something out. I figure there is bound to be a folk song called the Crows Nest. I was hoping it would get me off the hook.” Luckily they laughed.
“ Yeah, you would think there was a song called that.” said the dulcimer player.
They went on playing for a few hours and then they put their instruments away, satiated at last.
Greg had missed the Big Band on the stage after fiddling with the jam session. It was okay. It had been a great day.