Monday, August 24, 2009

City Farm Band - August 22 - Danville, VA

Last Saturday we went down to Danville to see the City Farm band play a benefit concert for the Free Clinic. The Free Clinic is a community-based organization that provides quality health care at little or no charge to low-income, uninsured Virginians. Of course the City Farm band is a group of Danville natives, now living in the Washington, DC area, who get together regularly to play progressive bluegrass and acoustic music and they are always a lot of fun to watch. There was extensive press leading up to this event (click here to see the Danville Register & Bee coverage) so I knew that there was going to be a big turnout for this show. But the City of Danville was ready, police and portable signs were stationed at the major highways coming into town, funneling the traffic to the concert venue in the downtown area. I motioned with my beer bottle to the officer directing traffic that I was headed to the hotel district and not downtown, he quickly waved me through.

We first checked into our room at the hotel, which was the same one where the band was staying. The lobby was packed full of groupies, hangers-on, and press people, but we were able to get checked in relatively quickly. I tried getting a room near the band members' suites, but the floor where the band was staying was completely sealed off with extra tight security.
Fortunately I had planned ahead of time and pre-ordered the mini-bar to be stocked with cold beer. You would have thought the President was staying there, but the fleet of six tour buses in the parking lot indicated we were in the right place. I'm not sure why the band members can't travel together on one bus, instead each one has their own bus customized to their individual preferences. Here's a picture from the hotel parking lot:

City Farm Musicians Tour Buses

Knowing that it was going to be a big crowd at the show, we hurried on downtown to the Community Market. The cars were lined up for several miles and we even saw some people abandoning their cars and walking the last mile or two. Once we got to the parking lot it was a big tailgating party, obviously many people had arrived early in the morning and were spending the day cooking out, drinking, and visiting with friends. There were many vendors selling City Farm t-shirts, stickers, and bootleg recordings. Of course there were folks wandering around with a finger held high in the air, hoping for a "miracle" - someone with an extra ticket to this long sold out event. (In fact the Ticketmaster servers crashed twice when tickets went first on sale, something that had never happened before, even for Bruce Springsteen.) After having a few beers in the parking lot we went on into the venue to catch the show.

Community Market Parking Lot before the Show

This was a large hall for City Farm and the sellout crowd packed it to the rafters. One of the best things about this large audience was that included every single person who attended George Washington High School between 1938 and 1978. It was great fun to see so many old high school friends that we haven't seen in so many years. Even my parents' generation was well represented with several of the band members' parents watching with pride. "I never knew Paul could sing!", his father said to me. Fred's (nee "Marty") mother said, "I always wondered what Marty was doing in the basement by himself all the time. He was practicing the resophonic guitar!"

City Farm takes the stage

I hit the bar for a couple of beers and moved to the VIP suite (one of the benefits of being related to the guitar player) and settled in for what turned out to be an epic performance. As soon as the band took the stage they tore into a raucous set of their most popular songs. The sound (mixed by the notorious "DJ Wayne") was impeccable and the light show was unlike anything I had seen before. The VIP suite was rocking, the champagne was flowing (a case had been provided by the Danville City Council, most council members were in attendance) and we all danced with youthful abandon.

VIP Suite at the Show

The band played late into the night, during the intermission there was a montage on the big video screen over the stage with a beautiful tribute to Les Paul, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett. I was most impressed when Don Parrish played a lovely banjo solo suspended high over the audience in a cherry picker. After 3 encores the house lights went up and the show was over. The band quickly slipped into 3 long limousines and was led away by a police escort. I had so much beer and champagne that I was reminiscing with high school friends that I had never met before.

But the festivities continued as we all moved to a local watering hole named "Sal's", but in true Danville fashion, no one calls it that, instead they call it the Wurst place. Lex Bendall (who is an old friend of mine) was holding court there and we solved most of the world's problems over a few beers. Too bad we didn't write any of it down.

Seriously though, it was the most fun I've had in that town in a long time, and it was great for everyone to come out to raise money for such a fine cause. Maybe the day will come when the government feels like giving a bunch of Wall Street fat cats a few hundred million dollars, they'll need to have some bake sales and benefit concerts. And when someone is down on their luck and needs to see a doctor the health care system will have the resources to take care of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment