Sunday, August 1, 2010
Mr. Smith Comes To Washington
Last month, a long tall Texan blew into town, kind of a scarecrow look to him with his dangly limbs that folded-in or folded-out. But this scarecrow came with a brain...and he came with a heart. Thanks to Jerry Libstaff and Watermark Writers, Darden Smith breezed into our area for both "Be An Artist" program (his baby) and "Words & Music" down in Vaughn.
Tweed and I managed to catch one of the "Be An Artist" workshops at the Gig Harbor YMCA, Friday July 23rd. Darden ran three workshops that day, for different age groups. First, from all artists everywhere, a big thank you and shout-out to the Gig Harbor Y for being willing to host this type of program for kids. Not only do we need the next generation of artists but, and I will keep hammering this point, it is proven that the Arts help children hook-up vital connections between left and right brain in their growth. These connections help grow healthy brains. We watched kids' eyes light up and their bodies loosen as Darden led them through his program.
He gathered them close and spoke, punctuating here and there with some finger-picking on his guitar. Here is the Mission Statement about this program: "The goal of the Be An Artist Program is to show that we are all artists, that every action of our day has the potential to be art, and that each of us possess the raw tools to make this a reality, using our own natural creative abilities."
He talked to them about "The Big Three"--attention, intention, and the love of doing something. Then he led them through writing a song by asking them simple questions and using their answers as lines for the song. With computer technology, he was able to record the song, kids singing with him, and had a finished CD of the song ready to mail to each of them by the following day. As Jerry said, "They all came in shy, quiet and still...and left laughing, singing, and dancing into the day."
The following evening we were all back at Jerry and Pam's for the "Words & Music" concert. I was excited to be reading...and relieved when my part of the performance was over, happy to hand it over to Darden and relax with my friends on a perfect Summer evening. The water and mountains sparkled, handing-off from silver to gold, to darkness and warm glow within the Libstaff's living room. What artist wouldn't love this venue? Darden joined the list of performers who had to keep stopping, just to appreciate their backdrop. The sun even co-operated to the point of disappearing its last speck of gold to the timing of his guitar's closing notes on a song.
Darden Smith started writing songs when he was a shy young boy and grew, over the years, to be a confident singer-songwriter, with national and international recognition. Now seems to me, Texan folksingers are a breed of their own as story-tellers. Between songs Darden filled us up with many a weird and funny tale, making caricatures of everyday people, juxtaposing those stories with sweet and sad heartbreak songs during his performance.
My personal favourite of the night was his "Angel Flight," a beautiful song about the flights that bring home the vessels of fallen airmen home to families and final rest from the sky. It truly touched me...and a line stays in my mind, "...Love is the one true skin...." Darden Smith now has his lucky thirteenth CD out and is, like the good scarecrow, gone. Ease on down the road brother, and thanks for coming!