Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two Gigs and a Byte

Over forty years ago, Pat Simonson, Linda Benson, and I formed a folk group that we called the "Antiquities". The name was supposed to be ironic; all of us were in our early twenties. It was a time of folk music; we were sort of on the leading edge of the whole movement. We sang songs from the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Bud and Travis, Ian and Sylvia, and Bob Dylan, among others. We performed all over northern Wisconsin and Central Minnesota. We did a little bit of television and radio, and a lot of concerts. We actually got paid for our efforts at times. If I may say so, we were really quite good. We won talent contests and were featured performers at folk fests of one sort or another. The whole thing came to an abrupt end when Linda got married and I headed off to southern Mexico for two years. During my absence Pat kept performing and by the time I returned home, she had made a name for herself in St. Paul. We had a couple of agents hankering for our talents, but I decided to get married and go to Utah to go to school.

Rocky Mountain Water tastes so fresh and fine
Rocky Mountain Water tastes so fresh and fine
Well if I don't get some of that Rocky Mountain Water
I declare I'm going to lose my mind
Rocky Mountain water tastes so fresh and fine
"The Antiquities" (by way of the Upper Noblick Ten Thousand)

About seventeen years ago, Jon Woodhead and I collaborated on a number of songs and performed around Simi Valley, California, for a time. We called ourselves "J.P. Legrande". The name was derived from our first initials and my dad's middle name. Jon is an accomplished musician, having been on the road with the likes of Leon Russell and Mariah Carey. We genuinely liked each other and spent hours working on several songs which we recorded in his front room using my Fostex recording equipment. A few years ago I resurrected the best of our work and produced a CD called "Rolling Home". In 1993, I was transferred to New Mexico and he eventually ended up performing just outside of Denver, Colorado, playing the blues that he loves so much. Jon had all the right connections, but for the second time in my life, I avoided entering into the profession.

Hear her cry, hear her moan
Rollin' by, going home
Through the lonely, clouded darkness
Rollin' home
J.P. LeGrande (by way of PNH)

During the time that I worked at UVSC, Shydandelion and I had the opportunity to perform publicly at various talent shows. We did songs from Nanci Griffith, Cat Stevens, and others to entertain the troops. We had a lot of fun. I retired and SD got married and began to have children.

Oh, trouble set me free
I have seen your face
and it'd too much, too much for me
Zaphod and Shy (by way of Cat Stevens)

About four or five months ago we found out that Jen and her family were coming to Utah, and actually ended up less than a hundred yards from our home here in Orem. We decided to do something that we had not done before. We formed a singing group, which we are calling "The Forest for the Trees". We have been practicing traditional Christmas songs for the past six weeks or so, and last Tuesday night we made our first performance at a Church Christmas party. I guess it was okay, for all that I could tell. Last night we went to the hospital to perform for T-ma. We sang the same set that we did Tuesday. Several of the nurses complimented us on our music. I was actually standing so I could here the others, and so I could heartily agree. The doctor on duty, a tall, gangly, grey-haired fellow stuck his head in the room and said, "Hey you guys are really good. Are you recording artists?" I said that we were going to lay down some tracks in the next week or so. "So are you guys performing somewhere? Are you on tour?" I had been waiting for this setup for a month.

"No," I replied. "We probably will never perform professionally; so it really is impossible to see 'The Forest for the Trees'." Goooooood onnnnne!!!!

Sleep my child and peace attend thee
all through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee
all through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
hill and vale in slumber sleeping
God His loving vigil keeping
all through the night
The Forest for the Trees (by way of Nick Reynolds)

I am really glad that I have never made it big performing. I know and understand the attraction of singing well before an audience of 10,000 and have them all be appreciative. I also know what it feels like to sing at a dinner club where most of the customers have had far too much to drink. I also have performed when everyone else was preoccupied with their neighbors and when I packed up my guitars and slipped out of the room, no one really noticed.

What I do enjoy, is singing with others who really like to sing, who enjoy harmony as much as they do singing lead, who can take advice from individuals outside our foursome so that we sound better together. We sang well enough last night that we went to Village Inn to celebrate. I had French toast. I felt like toasting us all.


Anonymous said...

Ah, yes...It seems that you have come full circle...Started out with The Kingston Trio, and ending with The Kingston Trio...history repeating...Reincarnating your youth...Which probably means we have come Cat Stevens in our future, as well, as some Nancy-ness. Ah...yes...Nancy-ness!
rosone: the sound of "The forest for the trees."

Trillium said...

Sorry I missed both gigs. But I understand that the practices were much like the performances, so I guess I've "been there, done that" after all. :)

Jen said...

Yo! We gots some mad skills!!