Friday, August 10, 2012

Despite a Rainy Night Just Plain Folks Delighted an Enthusiastic Audience

Norm Siegel, Patrick Murfin, Dave Dreyer,  Andrew  Cohen  (seated) Cheryl Niemo, and Andy Andrick join in This Land Is My Land
It was pouring rain in McHenry as show time for Just Plain Folk—Songs About Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  The program had been moved into the church building, but a lot of folks expecting the advertised “Mini-folk festival on the Lawn” may have figured that the event was canceled.
But the 55 or so souls who did show up seemed to have a great time and responded enthusiastically to a nicely balanced program.  
After a welcome by the Master of Ceremony—That would be me and greeting from our new minister, the Rev. Sean Dennison,  The Siblings set the table with a tasty set heaving on traditional Appalachian and early country music..  Cheryl Niemo was a stand-out singing lead with great close harmonies by Dave Drayer on the stand-up bull fiddle and Andy Andrick on guitar.
After that, as I observed, the stage would be dominated by  old men with goatees for the rest of the night.  The first of these was Chicago folk scene vet Norman “Mad Dwag” Siegel who did a set heavy on singer-songwriter material from the 60’s.  Highlight included one of Fred Holstein’s signature songs, an updating of a Tom Paxton classic, and an hilarious take on growing older, which struck a chord with his largely graying audience.
But Andrew Cohen really showed why we was the headliner in a tight hour set that was a virtual clinic on great guitar picking and roots blues.  Picking up an all-steel resonator guitar and a pinky slide, he told the story of Casey Jones as the audience had never heard it before.
Then with all of the musicians on stage and the audience on its feet we closed with a Centennial birth year salute to Woody Guthrie by singing This Land is Your Land with the subversive, seldom sung verses.
Final numbers have not been crunched, but it looks like about $490 was raised after expenses for the Compassion for Campers program for homeless PADS clients.  That’s enough to finish this season until the seasonal shelters in county churches open back up for the cold months, and to seed next years work.
Last time Andy Cohen was here, I shared the bill in a words and music program.  Those that thought that they had dodged exposure to poetry this time were shocked and dismayed when I broke out a new one at the top of the show.  And here it is:

My Prayer Tonight
A Poem for Just Plain Folk—Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
August 9, 2012

Let me be worthy of those
whose names have been forgotten.

Those who stood up,
            stood out
            and stood down.

Those whose hands bled,
            brows sweated
            and backs bent.

Those who nurtured,
            and loved without question.

Those who questioned,          
            and cared.

Those who offered hands up,
            hand outs,
            and hands on deck when it mattered.

Those who saw far,
            saw clearly
            and saw what need be done.

Those who sang,
            who danced,
            and laughed despite it all.

Those of faith,
            free thought
            and far horizons.

Oh, Greater Mystery,
            make we worthy of them all.

—Patrick Murfin

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