On a beautiful Friday in March, Carl, Jerry and I set out for the Ramsdell Theater, in downtown Manistee Michigan. Who’s Jerry, you might be thinking . . . (Jerry Long, the Mighty Mighty Plumber AKA longtime band-friend who masquerades as our road manager).
It was to be a four hour road trip; however, the memories we made would last a lifetime.
The trip was great, giving us time to relax and soak in the beautiful Michigan landscape. We even stopped for a break or two, so that we could enjoy every moment. Time flew by, as we listened to some set recordings of our 2012 St. Patricks’s Days show.
Arriving early, (as we like to do), we caught our first glimpse of the Ramsdell Theater. It was quiet and stately, as it soared high into the Manistee city-scape. Although we were not sure how old the building was, it appeared as though it would last another 100 years, or more, with little or no help from us.
Obviously it had been recently restored, and now appeared at the apogee of it’s beauty once more.
Poking around the front of the building, we were greeted with open arms and ushered inside to partake of Ramsdell‘s majesty. It was orate, yet not opulent. Historic and homey at the same time. Its’ vibe was very comfortable and cosy. Growing up in a small town, it made me feel like I was returning to put on a show for friends and family, long missed.
Just at about the time when we were going to sit down and relax, the headline act arrived; Crossbow.
This high-energy group pf young, talented musicians, filled the theater with personality as soon as they arrived.
Lots of time was taken for their set-up, as each and every instrument needed to be tweaked just so for the impending show. Concluding our three minute sound check, the stage was set and everyone was ready for the big night ahead.
Upstairs in the big hall, high above us all, the patrons were dining on a feast of Celtic treats for the occasion. Drinks were flowing both upstairs and under the stage, for good measure. The pre-show excitement was most certainly in the air.
Xavier, the master of ceremonies, greeted the crowd that had finally settled into their seats with the promise of “An evening to remember.”
Right on cue, Carl and I began with our traditional Irish opening song, The Whistling Gypsy.
For two guys that are used to playing four, five, six or up to twenty two hours on several St. Paddy’s days of the past, only playing forty five minutes can be a battle to decide just what music to share with an appreciative audience.
Our goal was to get everyone in the mood for the coming of spring. So, to “Get their Irish out”, so to speak. We did just that, as it became apparent that the music we did select made a permanent connection with everyone within earshot.
We played The Black Velvet Band, Whiskey, You’re the Devil!, and Galway Girl. We sang every song that we could think of that would evoke that feeling of being with good friends in an Irish pub at the ending of a day.
When we finished, the crowd erupted with applause and appropriate adoration, hardly being able to wait until the big stars took the stage for their performance.
The break between shows allowed us the opportunity to commiserate with many of the patrons that had just listened to our set. These were truly some of the nicest people that we had ever entertained. They had so many wonderful things to say to us, it was a real joy to visit with them, and hear their treasured feedback.
However, just like that, Crossbow took over the stage. Their Celtic rhythms and melodies, got the crowd tapping their toes and clapping their hands to the Irish melodies and moods.
Fiddles were flying, pipes were whistling and bass notes were dancing to the unrelenting beat of a jig and whirl.
It was the perfect blend of the entire breadth of music Ireland had to offer.
Our down-home, earthy melodies and sing-song stories, paired with Crossbows, rhythms, rhymes and raiper-like notes!
As the echoes of the ovation barley dissipated., we were once again on our way home. The four hour drive, flying by in the night. Most of our thoughts were still on the show, and the historic impressions that would resonate in our minds.
The show was grand. The music was good, the venue was amazing, but the people . . .
. . . the people were what we would remember. Folks so nice, that took special time to approach us both and genuinely express how much joy they felt as we played for them.
That, to us was the historic part of this trip.