There are moments in life when you just feel lucky, when the confluence of time and place and experience and event bring you to an occasion that’s purely sublime. That's what happened to me last night.
The time was early evening; the place was the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival; the experience was time spent with two of my grown children; and the event was the chance to hear Little Feat for ten bucks and two canned goods (being Portland).
With me at my advanced age, it had to be early and it had to be easy. I no longer like to stay up late and I don’t look forward to much of anything enough to go to much trouble to take part in it. But the band was playing at 6 and I was in Portland anyway and the kids were willing to drive me and park me and help me navigate the crowd. In addition, the non-Grammy-related parental units were willing to solo cover grandkid bath and bedtime for the evening. And then there was Little Feat. Little Feat is part of my history.
I grew up in a family with much happiness and great humor but very little music. I remember my daddy playing church music on the radio on Sunday mornings, more to annoy us than anything else, and then there were my begrudgingly-taken piano lessons on Wednesday afternoons. I remember my mother introducing me to a recording of Flight of the Bumblebee and Daddy’s favorite song being Alley Cat, which he kept wanting me to practice so I could play it at his funeral. Sadly, or most likely fortunately, my daddy died and was memorialized without me at the keyboard just behind the preacher.
One of the things I truly loved about Gary Talbert, when I met him, was his passion for and understanding of music. He introduced me to Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers, Bonnie Rait, Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Rickie Lee Jones, and so many others. One of those others was Little Feat. I don’t have much of an ear for music and very little rhythm in my soul, but there was something about that particular band that spoke to me. I think it was the syncopation, rhythm so compelling I was able to get over myself and become lost in it.
And so, in a perfect storm of cosmic forces, there I was with two of the three people I love most on earth, caught up again in the magic of Little Feat. I cried with the first chord of Dixie Chicken and stood mesmerized through Fat Man in the Bathtub with the Blues. When they started up Let It Roll with that unforgettable hallmark frenetic whoosh, I screamed so loudly even the dancing dervishes stopped whirling to look at me. And then I remembered Jan Waybright playing leg guitar to that particular song on the road to Athens some time in the mid 80’s, and it seemed like yesterday.
There I was again, dancing and moving, dare I say grooving? Who cared that I was sixty and had arthritic knees and a throbbing toe? I certainly wasn’t the youngest person there, but I wasn’t the oldest either. After all, the band started up in 1969, just a year before I met Gary, so their emergence and my musical education and appreciation grew throughout the same decades.
For a moment, I felt just a tad short of ashamed, thinking I shouldn’t have been there at my age, not acting my age with a little disorderly conduct in a public place. And then I thought: screw it. I was having fun and doing something I enjoyed with people I love in an absolutely gorgeous setting. It's a night I'll always remember and something I'll add to my Absolute Joy list.
It could explain the shawls.
It wasn’t until after I got home and saw my picture with my loose-skin-spot-speckled arms raised in Feat-struck appreciation that I remembered my age.I wonder if Stevie Nicks has this problem.
It could explain the shawls.
What could have made it better? Having my youngest with us would have created my perfect kid triad, which tends to be when I'm happiest and most in the moment. Having the Big Kat there, in spite of his geezer know-it-all horse's-assed-ness, would have been fitting and even fun, since we all have him to thank for the music in our lives. Having the grandkids there? Probably not. It was a night for grownups and a chance for me to remember my youth and consider my many blessings.
Despite my loose skin, I am a lucky woman.