This week we headed to Bethlehem PA for the 25th annual Musikfest. When I lived out east, this was one of my favorite festivals. I haven't been back in years, so this felt like a homecoming of sorts.
Aside from the great music (and lots of it!) the food isn't provided by standard fest food vendors. There are a lot of local regional offerings. Saturday night Tom and I split cheese fries smothered with chili bacon and sour cream. Oh. My. Sweet Loving God. Also, it's a Coke festival, not a Pepsi festival (like all the rest have been so far), so, yay.
Thursday night we had tickets to see Jethro Tull, and I don't mind telling you, I was psyched. Too old to rock and roll, too young to die. It was a pretty middle aged crowd, as you'd probably expect. Some still looked pretty cool (like Tom), but most didn't (like me). It didn't matter, we were all there to recapture a little bit of our youth. The Tull thing started for me when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. My cousin played a lot of Tull (as well as Cat Stevens and The Guess Who) to teach me that there was a world out there beyond what Tiger Beat was showing me. Good bye, Donnie Osmond; hello Ian Anderson. He wasn't as cute, but rock flute? Are you kidding me with this? It was the time when my school had us choose instruments for band/orchestra and there wasn't a moments hesitation before I said, "flute, please". Well, I never became a virtuoso or, you know, what you might call - good. I gave it up in 9th grade and never looked back. Someone should've made me watch footage of Mr. Anderson's flute hero imp on a regular basis.
The show was great. He still dances around that stage and rocks that flute every bit as well as he did 15-20 years ago when my friend Terri and I saw him in Philly. That night we joked about what a testosterone driven show it was. There were a lot of guys there, and a scattering of couples, but we were really the only two single chicks we saw. I remember she and I pointing out couples where the dude was rocking out and the chick was looking bored and saying, "I'll watch your Jethro Tull, buddy, but you're bringing me back next week for Milli Vanilli". That should help you date it. That should also help you figure out that nice isn't really what Terri and I generally aimed for...
This was, as it was oft announced, the 40th anniversary of the band. Mr. Anderson himself pointed out that that was, "really kind of pathetic".
I saw a guy with a vintage Aqualung tour shirt. How cool is that, right? Well, this is how cool: He had it tucked into khaki shorts with a belt. He wore it with white socks and shoes like my dad wears for walking. It was - a sight.
Midway (I'm guessing) through the second set, they ran into some technical difficulties. They announced this from the stage and set about trying to make it right. The crowd was drunk and antsy. They started screaming for Locomotive Breath. It was obnoxious. Then I noticed that there actually was a train going by. Maybe they're just attempting to be clever? Maybe? Maybe middle-aged folks can attend a concert - even one with a technical glitch - and not behave like asshats? Maybe? Not a chance. When the problem was fixed, Mr. Anderson came to the mike and announced, "I'd like to thank you for making so much noise while we tried to work that out. It was very helpful. Delightful." Oh, and if you couldn't tell? He was BEing sarCAStic. They played Thick as a Brick (where it fell in the playlist, or a statement?) and left the stage. It took a LOT of coaxing to get them back out for a callback, but they did come back out to close with Locomotive Breath. Mr. Anderson, who had been really engaging and charming up until that point didn't say another word to us. We were punished. A lot of hits remained unplayed that I have to assume would've been played under other circumstances. The kicker was, as we were walking out we overheard a guy in a sort of bragging voice stating (loudly), "and the funniest part is, this isn't the first concert I've fucked up". Delightful indeed.
Saturday night we had tickets to see the Christian McBride Band. This concert was held in an inside venue on campus at Moravian University as part of the Candlelight Series of Musikfest. My cousin got us awesome seats - 5th row, center aisle. I was pretty confident that the crowd would be more subdued. They were. Subdued enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, because holy cow what a lot of talent was packed into that little room! The show was going great - the crowd loved them and they loved the crowd (the audience loves me... and I love them. And they love me for loving them and I love them for loving me. And we love each other. And that's because none of us got enough love in our childhood. And that's showbiz... kid. ) I'm not the jazz fan Tom is, so I can't - with any degree of authority - say anything other than that it was really good. Then, quite abruptly after all that lovin', they stopped after one short hour. We tried for the callback, but when he came back out he told us they'd love to play for us all night, but we were all being asked to evacuate the building. There was an electrical fire. Insert your own "hot band" joke here. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Festival season is dwindling down, but the fat lady hasn't sung yet.
In the car with the radio on doesn't count, smarty pants.