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37,000 Captive Audience

Posted by harwilli55 on Sunday, March 28, 2010

A bunch of us were invited to a front porch pickin on the route of the annual 10k held here in Richmond.  Friday had been one of the wettest messiest days with increasing intensity of rainfall throughout the day.  After an unaturally warm week, the temperatures were to fall Friday with mild freeze warnings. 


Got up Saturday morning early, way too early, long before sunrise. Turned on the weather and found the clouds were gone, but so had the warm temps.  Packed the fiddle and guitar.  Left about 7:30, since it was just an 8 minute drive.  Tried to open my car door, but the rain had froze it shut.  Gave it some more tries and finally managed to get the ice film to break.  Yep, it was one of those steam breath mornings....the kind that makes you feel so alive.  Not a cloud in the sky.....birds egg blue from horizon to horizon.....a good warm shirt and sweater....fantastic.


Had to park about 6 blocks from the house.  Met some other folks in the parking lot. Unpacked, then started hiking down the street.  The house is a gorgeous old brownstone mansion on one of the most beautiful streets in Richmond. Monument Ave. This Avenue has 4 lanes with a beautiful large grassy median and elder trees covering them.  Statues of the Civil War Leaders are situated at the corners of each block with traffic circles surrounding them as in  era's gone by.  From our pickin porch, Jeb Stuart rode astride his stallion frozen in bronze.


As we walked up to he porch, we could hear a lone mandolin picker playing " Soldiers Joy". Once on the porch, we found our compatriots had outdone themselves. There were mikes and speakers galore. Chairs set up and breakfast treats, coffee inside with Bloody Mary's promised later.

The street in front of the porch was already alve with joggers warming up. Race watchers wandering to find a good observation seat. It was amazing how quiet it was, yet the energy of the bright cold morning was electric.


Grabbing a cup of coffee, we immediately pulled out the instruments, which immediately went completely out of tune.5 of us tuned up as best we could and jumped headfirst into the "Key of D' tunes.  Soldiers Joy.....Mississippi Sawyer.. ...Whiskey Before Breakfast.....Jaybird ..... Angeline the Baker.


From the first notes, hands frozen, but full of enegy.... we had the bystanders dancing.  The joggers warming up.... not the serious to dance some steps with us. By the time we were finishing those first tunes.... the rest of the posse showed. We re-situated the seating, got some more speakers and mic's set up, then launched into a 3 hour jam. 


The morning warmed up....thousands of runners, joggers, walkers, and crawlers streamed by for the majoity of those 3 hours. The serious runners....well....they were running, but we knew they gained energy from the music from the way their pace seemed to pick up, as incredible as their pace already was. Then came the ....well...they were running ....just above jogging.....lots more of them .......lots of smiles, waves, hoots, and hollars from them.  The next long long wave were the joggers ..... not moving fast ......lots of creative costumes in this bunch.....a gaggle of statue of mascots fully outfitted ....people dressed as cars complete with cardboard, flintsones to modernity.......clowns ......purple, red, yellow, green hued people.....  Two of my favorites were a guy dressed as a squirrel with a large acorn suspended in front of his face chasing it madly down the street.  Then the two ships, one a British man-o-war being chased by the Pirate ship complete with flags.  Lots of these joggers, came by to dance some steps during a tune.  Lots and lots of smiles, hooting, hollaring, clapping, etc.


Then came the far the largest of the groups.  These people had plenty of time to stop and enjoy the music as they had no particular goals except to finish.  So, lots of audience participation. Lots of dancing feet, spontaneous hamboning, and hooting, hollaring, with BIG smiles.


The bass players were bloody. The mandolin players tendons acted up. But we played on !! There were 9 of us. We got to play all of our favorite tunes. I even played fiddle the whole time, which is unusal and means my repertoire is growing.....though we had to stop and get someone else to lead off as I was pretty ragged when attempting to start one off. However, once the tune was underway, I seemed to smooth out.

So, by 12 pm, we had watched and been heard by 37,000 + . Not bad !! The greatest thing was, lots of participants, came back by after finishing to tell us, we had the best music on the course !!! That made our day complete. All the smiles, waves, hoots, hollars, and dancing feet meant we had accomplished our goal !!!

Thanks to Carl, Mike(Ironworker), Jim, Alice, Greg, Gary(Bloodyfinger), and a couple others who showed up in spite of the cool temps to make a difference in the day of others.

7 comments on “37,000 Captive Audience”

bj Says:
Sunday, March 28, 2010 @5:14:57 AM

You're the second person on here who's talked about what a hoot it is to play at a marathon (chickenman blogged it last summer, I think.) I think I'm gonna have to see if we can get our crew playing at one, though I hope it's warmer when we play!!!

We're going to be playing a church flea market on May 1st. This is in the downtown historic district, so there should be a great deal of pedestrian traffic. It'll be interesting, for sure!

Rene Says:
Sunday, March 28, 2010 @5:27:15 AM

I'm envious, what a neat way place to play.

slimman53 Says:
Sunday, March 28, 2010 @5:50:58 AM

Sounds like a great day. Richmond(particularly Monument Ave) is a beautiful city. my brother has lived there for 30+ years, though as a yankee with the last name of Grant I a not sure he is totally accepted to this day. Maybe next year I'll plan a visit to hear you folks play.

fiddleiphile Says:
Sunday, March 28, 2010 @6:21:53 AM

What a beautiful story. Wish I had been there with you. (could have "spelled" some of those bloody fingered bass players.)

mudbug Says:
Sunday, March 28, 2010 @8:30:20 AM

Congrats, Harlan! Wow! Playing to an audience of 37,000 people, it's like being in an arena rock band. Did you wear the multi-colored spandex overhauls? :-)

harwilli55 Says:
Sunday, March 28, 2010 @10:13:28 AM and spandex ain't made for each other !!! Gads.....if the music drew'em in that sure would have made them flee ....hey....not a bad idea for the crawlers...huh !!!

BJ, what a fun fun blast it play such fun music, have such a great response, ..... do it.... the historic flea market sounds ideal....wish I were able to come hear ya'll

Sliman....trouble with Southern towns, cities, burgs, don't matter how south you are....if you ain't born never truly Grant would be a fairly large deterrent in and of itself.

Anyone who comes this way....let me know....lots of jams to attend throughout the year....we would love to have you


tsaimichael Says:
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 @10:28:14 AM

What a hoot! Your story drew me in and I felt as if I was there myself in the midst of all of the positive energy. Happy fiddling.

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