Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Picking up where I left off yesterday before I so rudely interrupted myself with typical panic over all-I-have-to-get-done: there I was at the Folk Festival on Sunday afternoon, at the back of the Quad Stage tent, right behind the sound guy, listening to Ben Sollee and friends. And I was thinking how cool it was to see the playlist — not that I knew the songs, but lists are critical (!!). And the idea of having a plan appealed to me. And if I took a snapshot, I wouldn't have to work too hard should I want to revisit the lyrics later, online.

Lyrics often strike me in some way that I want to remember them (though I never do); I love that "ah, yes" moment when for a split second I think I get what the artist is trying to say. I'd heard a line earlier that grabbed me, for example, during the Avett Brothers' performance. They were on the main stage, outside the fort, on the other side of that slippery bluestoned tunnel where people were sitting (or not sitting, as they saw fit) on never-fired cannons and the like. And the keyboardist sang out: "There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light." I'm not sure what that says, but it says something (to me, anyway). It feels right. Just as Sharon Jones' introductory remark felt right, as she looked out — with her band, the Dap-Kings — upon what must have been an overwhelming sea of faces and colors backed by the actual sea (okay, it's Narragansett Bay) and shouted: "How you all doin', chillin' out there in the sunshine??"

Perfect for the folk fest, yes??

Anyway, there I was, behind the sound guy, beside Mr. Betty, listening to Ben Sollee — which reminds me of soleil, i.e. sun (will I ever finish this thought??) — when suddenly I heard, or maybe felt, Mr. Betty's cell phone vibrating in his pocket. You know you've been together a long time, or that you're on the same wavelength, or that you have pretty good hearing, when you hear/feel a silenced cell phone in someone else's pocket amid an ongoing concert without even touching that person's pant leg (woo woo).

So I nudged Mr. Betty, who looked to see who was calling — was it one of the kids?? No (whew; that worry never ceases), but he realized it was a work-related matter requiring immediate response. He wandered away to return the call from a discreet distance, whereupon a couple of girls about Darling Daughter's age slid into his standing-room-only spot next to mine, behind the sound guy, and proceeded to get rapturously excited about the music. Honestly, in addition to smiling and waving and bouncing on tiptoes as if the musicians were going to look out and notice them (does that happen??), at one point, between numbers, when Jim James (who spent most of his time with his back to the audience) left the stage, one of these girls called out in a soft-but-perfectly-audible, almost-desperate voice, "Come back, Jim ... "

Other than that, the girls (they were really very cute) never uttered a sound, though they took plenty of snapshots with cell phones.

But then I heard something else: another cell phone, not on vibrate, right behind me. It was a loud ring, utterly retro, mimicking the metallic rrrrring of those phones that everyone of a certain age had hanging on the wall in the kitchen. You know: those phones with a curly cord that one wound mindlessly around one's fingers while chatting with friends from junior high or some such thing. Why anyone would choose that ring tone I can't imagine, but after two or three pseudo-metallic rings that did not jibe with the vibe emitting from Ben Sollee's mellow cello, a woman answered. I didn't turn to look, but I certainly heard her. She said, in full voice, "Oh, hi. I'm at Ben Sollee. Right behind the sound guy. Where are you??"

At which point the sound guy turned around, shook his head, and said, "Unbelievable."

Meanwhile, the cute girls beside me just kept smiling and waving whatever-they-were-waving at whoever-might-be-watching and behaving in comparatively peaceful fashion ...

That's what the girls were waving.

And, as I understand it — though I'm pretty sketchy on matters pertaining to history — shots have never been fired from Fort Adams in defense of Narragansett Bay.