Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Words & Music Part III: John Batdorf and Connie Walle

All pictures are copyright 2010 Dale Goodvin

You know you're really a "Mossback" when you're content to wait for the view that hides behind stubborn clouds. For March's "Words & Music" concert it was dark when we arrived. For April's it was very overcast. But, at Saturday's third concert, in the series so generously put on by Jerry and Pamela Libstaff, the reward came. There, across the burnished gold water of Case Inlet, sat the purple, snow-capped Olympic Mountains, in full sun-cooked glory. What artist wouldn't want to perform with a sunset, sandwiched between clouds and mountains, as back-drop?

Before the show, I found singer-songwriter John Batdorf quietly taking in the view from the back deck. We shared an easy conversation about the process each performer goes through in the minutes leading up to stage call. As John said, "You could trip on a cord just walking up to the microphone, hit bad notes, not make that all-important connection with your audience...." It may sound like worries but, in reality, this is a mindful litany and adrenalin pump, one that begins the connection in a musician before any instrument is picked up, or microphone turned on.

John was delightful to chat with, and so very sweetly humble for a man with such impressive credits in the business. He's been doing this since he was a kid and was signed by Atlantic Records at age 18, in 1970. That same year, a young soldier was killed overseas in Laos. Many years later, after John sang a song he wrote with Michael McLean for the young men and women in our military called, "All For You," the parents of that soldier gave him the bracelet made in memory of their son. It still overwhelms him.

Being early, I was also able to chat with our hostess, Pam, for a bit. She told me of her dreams as a young girl, dreams of holding soirees with music and poetry, art and discussion. She became very dear to me in t
hat moment as she said, "Here it is!" with her face aglow and arms sweeping the room. And...speaking of glowing, Tweed arrived as a third-time grandmother! Her daughter had given birth that day, but still Tweed whirled in with paints and brushes, ready on heady adrenalin, to do her thing.

Poet Connie Walle handed-out tiny booklets of her poems beforehand, some of which she read to us. The sun lit-up the windows behind her as she began to read "Sacred Ground," my personal pick of the night. She caught my ear with lines like, "...The quiet is so deep you can feel the velvet touch of the wind...," and, "...I watch the colorless stream roll over boulders, know that salmon worship here too." Of course she had the audience laughing with a poem entitled, "Real Men Ask For Directions." Meanwhile, Tweed's hands began flying, knowing this was to be a short reading. Her fifteen minute, lightning-quick portrait still captured the essence of Ms. Walle's command over the room.

John Batdorf took over for the rest of the evening with a wide range of his songs, some from his early beginnings in the seventies, right through to his newest CD getting a LOT of buzz, "Old Man Dreamin'." His voice has that smoked edge like Rod Stewart, but sits lighter and more relaxed on the air. His playing got me moving in my seat. Again I'll say, the secret to a good solo performer is always rhythm, from their playing, through lyric and rhyme, to the pacing of songs alongside an audience's heartbeat. John gave us a comfy ride, his rhythms making Tweed dance at her easel, his songs making the night roll on in easy smiles.

Stay tuned for June by checking out the "Words & Music" website or facebook page.

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