Life in a Northern Town

Trampled By Turtles At The Tent

Summer of 2012 is off to a spectacular start. We went to see Trampled By Turtles at Big Top Chautauqua and it was one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Our friends, Bob and Kelly, sponsored the show— we met the band and had front row seats. I was serious about the summer of 2012, it's poised for greatness. Bluegrass played under a tent at my favorite ski hill made for a night I won't soon forget.

There were a lot of people there, I think it was a record-breaking night. There were hula hooping girls, little kids and lots of happy people waiting for a brilliant show, inside and outside the tent. I doubt anyone left disappointed, Trampled By Turtles were fantastic. I like bluegrass and I really like bluegrass played by a bunch of talented men from Duluth.

I was so happy that Jack was there. In fact, he was the one who turned me onto Trampled By Turtles. One of the perks of having teenagers is their music knowledge, they play new music for us all the time. Thankfully, they have been raised on a steady diet of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Dave Matthews and Cat Stevens.

Music frames a childhood. I remember listening to Cat Steven's, Tea For The Tillerman, when I was eight or nine in the family room while my Dad grilled steaks outside. I still can smell the smoke from the grill and feel the scratchy blueish green scalloped carpet every time I hear Hard Headed Woman. Jack will remember this night long after we are gone and that makes me happy.

When we met the band earlier in the evening a couple came up to Dave Simonett with a small box wrapped in gift wrap with his face and a red bow on it. It was their anniversary and either they met at a TBT concert or played one of their songs at the wedding (I wasn't listening that well, trying to balance picture-taking and beer drinking). It must be pretty humbling to realize the words and chords that lived in your head and were brought to life with a banjo, guitar or your voice have become touchstones for people you may never meet. There were moments during the concert where everyone was singing and dancing— a collective consciousness of pure joy. I could be wrong but I think the band felt it as well.

I don't play any musical instruments but if I did, it would be the violin. It is a seriously sexy instrument— all curves and beautiful details. It looks delicate but after watching Ryan Young play it, appearances are clearly deceiving. It is very sturdy and makes the most beguiling sounds. I am going to add violinist to the list of things I want to be when I grow up (or older, in my case).

We have spent many summer nights listening to music at Big Top with friends and family and the tent holds a special place in our family story. Jack said he has had an amazing childhood since we moved up here and one of the reasons was seeing Trampled By Turtles and Great Big Sea at the tent. Meghan and Charlie were in a few of the house shows last year, although they seemed to enjoy running around outside as much as being on stage. When we park our car in the gravel parking lot and see the striped canvas tent at the foot of the ski hill we were skiing on 4 months ago, I am awestruck by how blessed and lucky we are. Music is a gift and having a place in my backyard where I can share it with my kids is astounding.

In the song, Alone, the first verse is 'come in to this world alone and you go out of the world alone but in between there is you and me'. In between there are nights like last Friday— music, good friends, my first-born son and memories made under a canvas tent near the shores of Lake Superior. Absolutely brilliant.