Sunday, June 15, 2008

Buffy Sang to Me

I didn't buy a lot of records when I was a teenager, so the ones I had were played over and over and over again until the skips from the scars and scratches became part of the listening experience. Some of the early albums included Imagine (John Lennon), Hot Rats (Frank Zappa), Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II, Your Saving Grace (Steve Miller Band) and the Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Lately I've been bummed out that I spend way too much time sitting at my computer OR sitting in front of a TV OR doing Kakuro puzzles and that I don't DO much of anything else (aside from the obvious -- working, sleeping, eating, doing laundry and Logan time). Then I heard that Buffy Sainte-Marie would be playing at Westfest AND it was a free concert AND that my weekend plans for a going to Montreal were canceled AND the weather was perfect for an outdoor concert. The stars were perfectly aligned… I had to go!

No one in my home was interested in joining me, so I set out by myself, parked the car on the fringe of Westboro and headed for the mainstage (I think it may be the ONLY stage). I got there at about 8 pm. There was a fairly large crowd enjoying some of the earlier concerts (Holly McNarland, Lucie Idlout). I stood near the front of the stage but off to the side, just inside the crowd barrier. I noticed that two people had gotten up to leave, sitting about 5 rows back from the stage (centre) so I jumped at the opportunity and, trying not to appear too excited, made my way over and staked out a plot of land. The people in the immediate adjacent spaces were friendly and made sure I had enough space to be comfortable. The ladies behind me had been there since 3:30 taking in all the concerts waiting for Buffy's appearance at 9:30. To my left were a group of very animated Inuit, dancing to the music and cheering on the performers. One of them told me Lucie Idlout was her cousin and was screaming out to her on stage prompting Lucie to smile and answer back in her native tongue.

As I said it was 8:00 pm and I wasn't sure I could hold out until Buffy showed at 9:30 but I felt lucky to have such a great seat and the crowd was really starting to build, and I was so proud of myself for actually getting out and doing something that I had to stick it out.

Buffy came on stage and she looked fantastic. She didn't look much older than she did on the album cover I had from 1970. This morning I calculated she is 67 years and was surprised. She was bouncing around the stage to the heavy beats of her music and if I didn't know she was making music in the 60s, I'd have guessed she was in her early 50s. Her voice was a vibrant and crisp as her early records.

I wasn't let down. She played most of my favourites from the olden days… Cod'ine, Universal Soldier, the upbeat He's an Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo and others from her early albums that drew large approval from the crowd, Piney Wood Hills, and Cripple Creek. On my album, I always thought Buffy played a Jew's Harp on Cripple Creek and on a similar sounding song Ground Hog, but it turns out she used a Mouth Bow, which looks like a tiny bow from a bow & arrow (see photo). She also played a few tunes from an upcoming album. There is a kind of Reggae air to her music which I never noticed before.

As she spoke and sang to the listeners, Buffy scanned the crowd and because I was sitting so close, we actually made eye contact a few times. Because she has such a radiant smile when she looked at me I naturally smiled back. I imagined she was singing to me!

Can't wait to journey out again!


zoom said...

I wish I'd been there!

JuliaR said...

Good for you! It sounds like you had a great time and I'm proud of you too, for getting out. Peter and I were talking about how we should start biking to breakfast but we don't want to kill you and Graham. Have you got a bike yet? We can help you choose one. Pretty soon, you'll be out ALL the time!

skylark said...

It WAS a fun time zoom and probably beat checking out a line of red ferraris but don't fret, looks like there are going to be tons of good stuff coming up... Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival AND the Jazz Fest AND the Fringe Festival for starters.

Good idea Julia, I do have a bike and probably have enough stamina to get to your house... what's for brekkie? lol

bikerider said...

Actually, we already killed Graham going to on the bikes. We're looking for fresh meat to skewer! The Aylmer Marina is a fun ride from Castlebrook, but it's easier to get there by lunch ... especially with newbie-not-so-dead-meat!

It's nice reliving your youth a bit, isn't it? :)