What a glorious day we awoke to! The question of spirituality is a non-question on this trip, as frankly it is in everyday life, if you are paying attention. We started our day fighting with Wi-Fi and ended up at the Convention Center on their internet. Technology is soooo endearing. Then it was breakfast at Ruby Station, a little family restaurant with good service and great food. Comfortably full we wandered across the street to the Chamber of Commerce that is housed in the original Walther Family home. A chinked log home and outbuildings that is magnificent. We found ourselves upstairs looking at Smoke Images by Lynn Kistler. I was fascinated by this medium I had never heard of. What started out as a simple info gathering to pass onto my artist friend, Desiree’, turned into me actually writing down a quote from scripture, Romans 8:26; We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Our first show of the day had us both laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time. The Three Amigos; Waddie Mitchell, a home town boy is unable to turn off the twinkle in his eye, Michael Martin Murphy, well know country artist has been coming here for 23 years and legend Don Edwards that is as comfortable in his skin as one can possibly be. They wowed us. The music and poetry had the rapt attention of the audience, including the toughened press gaggle and the tiny buckaroos still on bottles that never uttered a peep.
This was followed by an uplifting, toe-tappin’, audience singing show by Riders in the Sky. These four very lively gentlemen have been together for 31 years and they so obviously still love what they do that they are to be envied. And they are as friendly in person. We got autographed CDs and later ran into them at the Folklife Center where they recognized US and stopped to say hello!
We had reservations for two at the Star Basque restaurant, by the time were seated we were a party of five, with new friends Jim and Kathy of Arizona and Marty from Oregon. Also dining was the tour group Daytripping, from Santa Rosa, that have visited my ranch! What a small world!
Full of good food and great conversation we headed to the Western Folklife Center where we bumped into other new friends we had met today. We tried to write but found ourselves listening to impromptu jam sessions and visiting with literally dozens of wonderful people. I have yet to meet a stranger here. This breed of folk is a very large family, but a small community. As Waddie Mitchell has been wont to say; “It’s like going to a family reunion, only you like everyone!”
Oh my, where to begin? We have experienced so much in the past 24 hours that we are nearly on overload. The short story is that there are no strangers here, the shows we have seen have each been the very best show we have ever seen, and we have too many stories to tell. 400 words just won’t cut it. Thanks heavens Anne beat me to it—her latest blog captured what we’ve been up to just perfectly.
So, in the hopes that a picture is worth a thousand words, here are my “best picks” of the past 30 hours or so, with captions.
Tuesday night’s show, “A Ride with Bob” was spectacular; Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel brought to life western swing legend Bob Wills, from his childhood picking cotton to the early days of radio, then highs and lows ranging from Hollywood to the Grand Ole Opry.
Wednesday morning we explored the Elko Chamber of Commerce compound of old log structures, including a restored schoolroom. Then upstairs, we stumbled upon artist Lynne Kistler, whose unusual medium is smoke on paper. This lovely Christian artist prays for God to guide her as she uncovers images in the smoke, then uses an eraser to refine the images she sees—rather like seeing things in clouds. Next, we visited the Northeastern Nevada Museum, where we met two lovely gals from Ann Arbor, MI, Annie and Carla, who we now seem to run into everywhere we go, and who are fast becoming great friends. A quick trip to the press office to pick up passes to various shows resulted in meeting a cowboy poet named Susan Parker from Benicia, CA, whose card reads “Giving Voice to Pioneering Women of the West.” Turns out she’d love to read at events in Lake County; she gave us her CD and we promised to connect her with folks who would be thrilled to present her; with her was Margaro Metegrano of CowboyPoetry.com in San Francisco.
Then on to the Western Folklife Center for a show featuring “The Three Amigos,” legendary Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell (a local son whose family’s original ranch house and outbuildings are now the Chamber compound), and Michael Martin Murphey. These three pros and obviously great friends interwove readings and music, stories and camaraderie and moved us to laughter and tears. Here was that heart of spirituality that defines this culture and its art forms. Next, Riders in the Sky gave a ripping concert, that had us tapping toes and splitting our sides with laughter. We envied their fabulous shirts and boots! When we took our seats, we were amazed to find ourselves seated again next to Holly and Ron, locals that we’d met at last night’s concert. We continued our conversation right where we’d left off! They recommended a local Basque restaurant (the local cuisine), so we rushed right over to the popular Star Hotel to be there when they opened at 5:00. Already jumping! We took our place in line for a short wait, which stretched out long enough to acquire three new friends Kathy, Jim, and Marty (the “Skunk Whisperer”), who joined us for dinner. Conversation was a rapid-fire exchange of stories from folks who shared common interests, proving once again that you cannot meet a stranger in this town.
After dinner, we headed over to the Folklife Center again, for a late night open jam session and immediately met up with more new friends, Jeannete and Gary who were married three years ago in the same corner by the fireplace where I shot their picture, below, and listened to fascinating stories about their life and their wolf Takai. The Pioneer Saloon was packed as folks gathered to listen to the artist from all the shows jam with local and visiting musicians, amateurs and pros, from very young to very old. Before heading home, overfull and heads spinning with all we had heard and learned in—was it really just 24 hours?—we stopped for a “family portrait” with some of our newly-made friends. What a day!
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1389