Or rather, at the “liberry”, as I like to say.
Ellis Paul, the folk singer I’ve written about once or twice before, finally played somewhere that’s a reasonable driving distance from my little hamlet of a town. I’ve been known to make the three+ hour trek to Philly to see him, or drive an hour and a half to Harrisburg. Twenty-six miles? Less than thirty measly minutes? To Williamsport?
Pfft. Chump change.
OK, so it was a children’s show and I don’t have any kids. Understandably, one might think that was a little quirky (Hello, my name is Terri but you can call me Aunt Creepster) BUT I am friends with one of the programming coordinators at James V. Brown Library. The library, opened in 1907, is a gorgeous building bequeathed to the city by lumber baron James VanDuzee Brown (and thus not to be confused with a certain other James Brown, regardless of the music being performed). Performers–Ellis, and anyone who plays there for First Friday events–get to play in the Rotunda Room, which boasts a beautiful stained glass rotunda and wrought iron gazebo. It’s kind of an amazing place to spend a day regardless of why you’re there. I got to help set up and hang out and feel all cool. What a different person I’ve become, now that I think hauling chairs around a library on a Saturday morning to prep for a kids’ show is “cool”. And yet I was. A girl can’t help it, even if I wasn’t quite a roadie and was more of a…ummmm…venue monkey. Or something.
Here’s the thing: even when he’s putting on a kid’s show, Ellis Paul is a great act to catch. He’s funny and engaging. He keeps the kids entertained and throws in enough references so the parents “get” that he’s winking at them. He plays long enough to be worth it but not so long that the kids are losing their minds. And even though these songs are written for children, they’re still conceptually interesting. I didn’t know there was such a thing called “wabi-sabi“, never mind that it was a Japanese aesthetic that focuses on the acceptance of imperfection. Not until I heard a song about it at a kid’s show.
It’s a great message for kids. Not a bad one for adults either, when you come down to it. But it’s one that’s far more challenging and evocative than “I love you, you love me.” Which I suppose is nice too, but a little pedestrian and not always true.
Here’s some photos from the show.