Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on May 24, 2013

[Note: Look for that last of the three eclipses tonight (Friday night, May 25, 2013 at 00:25 AM EDT (actually around Midnight on Saturday morning). This will be a Full-Moon eclipse.'

Last night I had a night out. My wife Margaret is at our monastery in New York for a spell and I am running solo for the time. I went to hear my daughter May and her husband Seth Bernard play music. Seth and May are well known folk musicians in the Midwest and also tour both coasts. They have appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and at festivals too numerous to list.

Anyway, I wanted to hear them perform in a new kind of setting, a house concert. They call it their "Living Room Tour." How this works is that someone holds a concert in their house, invites all their friends (who all pitch in), and May and Seth come and perform an acoustic concert right in their living room. I am used to seeing them perform with mics, amplifiers, and often with an entire band, so I thought it would be a treat to hear them up close and un-amped, so I could hear every word.

The concert was near Grand Rapids and I live in Big Rapids. To do this I had to drive about an hour from home I live. The hardest part was explaining this to our dog Molotov, who spotted me putting things in the car, knew something ominous (for him) was happening, and just sat there hanging his head. There was no consoling him, but I did leave a few extra dog biscuits for him to find and then sheepishly closed the door. Leaving him is the worst part.

Anyway I met May and Seth around 6 PM at Brewery Vivant on Cherry Street in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, where their good friend Buddha works. Anyone named Buddha I have to meet, and it turns out I already have met Buddha many times. I remember faces better than names. As usual, I arrived a little early and the staff somehow spotted me as I came in and called me by name. That was a surprise. Buddha and I had a great talk.

What a nice place to eat. They had things like tomato & fennel soup, home-made pickled vegetables, risottos, gnocci, and all kinds of gourmet-level items, not something I am used to finding in a brewery. I immediately ordered some marinated olives, which included my favorites (Provencal), but also some Nicoise and Picholine. I am no longer a drinker, so I can't tell you about the brews.

After a while May and Seth came along with their friend Bill Chesney. Bill designs most of the posters for their gigs as well as maintains their web site, which is here:


We had a great dinner, but the time flew, and we had to high-tail outside of town, some 15 or so miles away. It turns out this home was right (within feet) of the Thornapple River, which is not tiny, and was moving kind of fast last night. The home has a very large room with two-stories of windows that directly face the river, so you are right there with the water. Across the river was a row of trees and rising behind them was that Full Moon that is going to be eclipsed soon.

People were out on a back deck and I walked into find I don't know how many, perhaps forty or so folks, most maybe in their 30s and 40s. I probably was the oldest person there. That has been happening to me a lot lately and is hard to get used to, being the oldest around.

I grabbed a seat right up front. There were chairs all round and a loft high above and behind me. As mentioned, the very large room has a solid wall of windows two-stories high, and the river and evening look like an immense mural in front of me. It was nice. There were all kinds of treats and beverages all around and people were already warmed up and very enthusiastic. Well, it was like a party.

The concert was just great. Everyone listened intently, including me. I have heard these two musicians hundreds of times, but not often so close and so clearly. There is something to be said for no mics, no amps, and just acoustic. And the music just got better and better.

The highlight of the evening for me was when May realized she knew about this home. Actually she had written a song for the couple that was putting on the house event, but did not realize it until she arrived. Both May and Seth sometimes write songs for people who commission them. This song was written for the love of this couple and how they came together.

May had no idea that this home concert was the home of the couple she had done the song for and she immediately sat out in her car and madly scribbled out the lyrics. She wanted to play the song for them live, which she did. And it was a knockout.

All I can see is that it was beautiful and touching. With all those people, there probably was not one of them with dry eyes when the song was done, not even me. I tried to fight off the tears I suddenly found rolling down my cheeks. After that the crowd and the musicians were just one. They talked together, asked questions, and of course listened to the music. It went deeper and deeper. And the tears came back again, at least for one more song.

And May played what is one of my favorite songs, and I apologize for always posting it here, but I am going to post it again because I love it. If you have not heard these two, give it a listen.


May dedicated the song to me and told folks how I had taught her to sing from her heart. The whole evening was very cool. Afterward, I hugged those two goodbye and hit the road. I had a longish drive and it was already getting late. And yes some little black dog was VERY happy to see me come in that door.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

[Poster by Bill Chesney]