October 14, 2011
I’m just finishing up a whole month at home, which hardly ever happens, and it’s been delightful. We were out picking apples the other day, and seeing some windfalls on the ground took me back to a childhood scene, just about this time of year.
We spent our summers in Connecticut and had a couple of pastures on the property. To keep them from growing up with bushes and weeds my parents rented them out to a farmer, who fenced them in an filled them up with Holsteins – huge, amiable beasts of impeccable character, but not towering intellects. In looking for a quiet spot to practice the guitar one day, I discovered they were also curious. As I sat at the edge of their domain working on the old C-G-F rotation I looked up to discover that all thirty of them, more or less, had gathered around and were standing there staring at me in calm bewilderment, placidly chewing their cuds.
It was my first audience ever, and I was exhilarated, of course, at the notion that, even at this early age, I could draw a crowd. Cows, mind you, and perhaps “herd” would be the better word, but still … it was a thrill. As soon as I stopped playing, though, and made eye contact they became uneasy and started to edge away. I started playing again and they came closer. I waved the guitar and sang loudly, “When John HENRY was a little BABY,” and they stampeded, and I had to start the courtship all over again.
It was a game we played often that summer, and it taught me the basics of relating to a college audience. There was a time, in fact, in the early fall when the girls got into some windfall apples that had fermented on the ground – the bovine equivalent of Boone’s Farm – and I got my first taste of playing for a bunch of drunks. I’m here to tell you that a herd of Holstein hecklers is about as tough a crowd as you’re going to find.
On another note, as it were, the Fish Story Song Video is coming along very nicely (with an animated fish, no less). I’m very happy with it and hope to have something to show you in about a month’s time.
And I’m headed out for some shows starting next weekend, perhaps to a theater near you. Check the listings below and come by if you can, or send this on to Uncle Bill if something happens to be in his neighborhood. Five of the first six on the list are at venues I’ve never visited before, so I may be getting to meet some of you for the first time.
Stay warm and dry, listen to good music!
All the best,
Quotes of the month: “There’s nothing like sitting back and talking to your cows.” – Russell Crowe. “Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn’t hiss or boo me.” James Dean
So I’m in good company!