Sunday, March 27, 2011

Woodstock with Golf Carts

This past Monday was the Summer Solstice and I heard about plans for an evening concert by the three guitarists whom I featured in a Blog titled “A Little Night Music” from January this year. The plan was to hold this event in one of the large community courtyards near the INN and so I contacted my friend Rich, who plays in the group, to offer my PA system for the evening.

After consulting with his fellow players the consensus was “louder is better” and so they accepted the offer, and I made plans with Rich to pick me and the equipment up in his Golf Cart in the afternoon before the show was to begin. As the date got closer there was an addition made to the program – a Homeowner was being visited by his two University aged sons who were gifted musicians and they would be sitting in with the trio.

As many of you are aware, last Sunday there was a “Super-bright” full moon which I witnessed at a neighbour’s home and took pictures. This special full moon the day before the Solstice seemed an auspicious beginning to what I am feeling is a new chapter in the continuing story of Loreto Bay. In my business I have seen some positive results from the current atmosphere here – more people, more visitors more sales and a growing positive energy in the community.

So it was in this context that I was anticipating this first “open air” public concert and wondered what the turnout would be like. To set the scene, the homes in the Founder’s Neighbourhood are located around over two dozen community courtyards which are landscaped areas that provide green space to offset the relatively high density of the homes themselves. The area that had been chosen for the concert is one of the largest such courtyards in the development with a central fountain and a shade pergola set in a desert garden at one end which is where the musicians would set up.

Rich’s golf cart was the ideal transport for my sound equipment because with it we could load things from my door at one end of the development and drive right into the courtyard at the far end, to unload. Since electric golf carts and bikes are the only vehicles that are permitted on the meandering pathways between the courtyards and normal vehicles are restricted to the Paseo, or main road running through the development, without the cart everything would have had to be carried at least 50 yards from the road.

When we arrived at the courtyard, Greg, a local electrical contractor was just finishing up rigging a power line from a consenting Homeowner’s outlet nearby and stringing a couple of lights in the pergola for later on in the evening. I got busy setting up the PA system while Rich headed off to pick up his “Axe” at his nearby home. While he was gone, George and Steve arrived with their instruments and began their set-up. When I had the PA working and some filler music playing I turned the system over to the musicians to hook up their own equipment and play with their levels. Soon the two visiting musicians arrived, and the brothers Chad and Casey began unpacking their fiddles and a mandolin to begin the ritual of tuning.

Chad & Casey
Although both of these “guest artists” were still taking University courses and had interests outside of music, they had been playing together since the ages of 4 and 6 and had just finished a “gig” on St. Patrick’s Day in Portland OR the night before flying to Loreto for a spring break. Fortunately for us, they had brought their instruments with them and as they warmed up it became apparent that we were in for a special treat this evening!

Meanwhile, the courtyard was filling with people as the appointed start time approached. Homeowners arrived in couples and small groups from all over the neighbourhood, some in their golf carts, many carrying folding chairs and some with small coolers or snacks. Soon the fountain was surrounded and the chairs reached across the width of the courtyard on each side and more people kept arriving until the crowd stretched well towards the back of the open space. At one point I did a quick head count and estimated that there were more than 150 people gathered for the concert and others continued to arrive after that!

This in itself is a fairly unprecedented event, the last time I had seen as many people together here this winter was at the inauguration of the newly paved road (see “Sports, Politics and Paving”, from February), but this crowd looked larger, reflecting the increased occupancy levels at this time of year. While most Homeowners have a circle of friends and neighbours in the immediate vicinity of their casa, and many know others elsewhere in the community, there are few occasions where we all get together at one place and time.

While I was aware that we are currently somewhere around 50% occupancy of the about 550 homes in the Loreto Bay development, I was surprised to see how many people there are actually here, when most of them are together in the same place! During the normal day to day rhythm of life here in the community, there are usually people coming and going up and down the Paseo, walking dogs, going to Evan’s store, to and from the community pool or strolling on the beach, but you really don’t get a sense of the actual numbers of people in residence at any given time.

However, an event like this brings everyone together – and I for one was impressed! But the best was yet to come. The trio started things off with several folk and blues standards, then before long they called on the visiting musicians to join them and the addition of the fiddle and mandolin rounded out the guitar music very well. After playing along as a group for the first set, Rich, George and Steve gave up their stage for a set by the duo and the audience was in for a special treat!

Getting things off to a rousing start was one of the best versions I have ever heard of “The Devil came down to Georgia” with killer fiddle solos by each brother, which they then followed with a classical Bach piece, showing their classical virtuosity and then they did a three piece set that may defy description! The first piece involved one brother holding his fiddle and fingering the neck while the other brother bowed the strings – an impressive feat of co-ordination!

The second tune was even more athletic – the brothers stood side by side and hooked one leg each together at the knees, they then interlocked their arms and proceeded to play a duet . . . while hopping in place on their free leg, in time with the music! (You had to be there!) But, as I said, this was a three piece set and they were saving the best for last. After carefully getting into position, side by side, they managed to intermingle arms and instruments so that they were each playing half of both instruments! While one held and fingered his fiddle, he was bowing the instrument being held and fingered by his brother – and vice versa! How many hours of practice that this feat of musicianship and co-ordination had required was beyond my imagination, but it would have “brought the house down” if we had been inside!

After this tour de force the three guitarists rejoined them on stage and for most of the rest of the evening we were entertained by the newly formed quintet playing a variety of pop/rock/blues standards well into the evening. While I have been fortunate enough to be present at a number of the Trio’s performances, it was obvious that they have really come together as a group, no doubt after many hours of playing together, and I look forward to enjoying more of their musicianship in the future.

When an impromptu gathering to celebrate the Solstice grows into the largest community gathering of the winter (so far) and we are treated to a free concert of professional grade musicians playing for the joy they get from their music and inspired by the atmosphere and surroundings – and while I know I have said it before – this was really what “Living Loreto” is all about!