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Monday, October 25, 2010

Words & Music Finale, Oct. 16th: Elizabeth Austen and Amy Petty

The sun was slipping behind the Olympic mountains, flashing a molten beacon between the passing trees as we drove towards Pam and Jerry's. Hard to believe that eight months had passed, and now we were going to the finale of "Words & Music" for the year, October 16th. I thought of all the sunsets, music, lyrics, stories and poems, all the conversations between artists and audience that have filled this series of house concerts, replaying some of my favourite moments as we wove our golden way. A grand finale it was to be!

Before we go any further, may I just stop for a minute to give three cheers for National Public Radio? Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Yes...I heard many of you join me!

KUOW's own Elizabeth Austen was our poet of the evening, her voice offering the far-reaching intimacy of radio, a microphone unnecessary for everyone to hear. A seasoned performer, she let each line breathe and deliver. Her first poem she selected to read, said Jerry, had been read just the evening before on "The Writer's Almanac," by none other than Garrison Keillor. It was called "On Punctuation," a most delightful romping rebellion against the strict usage of certain punctuation. I could be led happily into a poem that begins, "not for me the dogma of the period...." and laugh along the lines in this rhythmic playground. With my eyes closed, I could hear Mr. Keillor's voice echo hers.

To check out the rest of "On Punctuation," and read more of Ms. Austen's wonderful poetry, do check out her website Her new chapbook, "The Girl Who Goes Alone" is now available. Treat yourself to some poetry for the coming early dark evenings...and don't forget to tune her in on KUOW.

Amy Petty moved to the microphone like La Bella Luna, in her midnight gown. She beamed a goddess smile and told us how happy she was to be out here for the first time, coming from where they live in New Hampshire. Then she began to share her stories and beautiful voice. Amy was a member of the Michigan Opera and classical training showed in her exquisite control and sound. It was obvious she could easily hit the back of a hall, but compressed that power to suit the smaller room.

There was a twinkle in her eye when she sang "Single Girl" but it was obvious how much she loved her husband/roadie/soundman. When Amy mentioned that they had been caregivers for her husband's grandparents, I loved them both. Not that she had to sell me anymore...but she did "Summertime" as sweetly as you please...mmmmmmm. Hand me a mint julep, honey!

Technology is Ms. Petty's friend, and the old Men-At-Work song, "I Come From the Land Down Under" became layered recorded loops of guitar, tin-whistle and harmonies, to the delight of her audience. She chuckled as she told us it was cheaper than traveling with a band! I settled back in my cushions and looked over at my friend Trish, who reached over and squeezed my hand with a smile. Amy began another looped song and I closed my eyes to go with it, to go with the night and dreamy ease of her voice. Do check out Amy Petty on youtube and look for her new CD release, November 1st.

So ends the 2010 house concert series "Words and Music," held within the salon of the Libstaffs, benefiting the young writers of our Key Peninsula. Tweed Meyer has painted each and every artist who has appeared this year, some more than once. Her performance at each month's event, in itself, was reason to be present.

Thank you Jerry and Pam...and thank you neighbours...for some wonderful times out here in the wild woods!

(Pssst...I've seen some of next year's line-up and it looks good!)


Irene said...

Very nice coverage, Lox. I noticed that the layered loop of the "down under" selection was conducted by Ms. Petty's ringed toes. She's talented all the way to the tips of them, y'know.

Lorraine Hart said...

I could not see her toes from where I was so comfortably sitting, Irene, so thanks for the up-close coverage!

Kim Thompson said...

Lorraine, clearly these are really popular and poignant shows. Has there been discussion of "expanding" the venue to house more patrons?

Lorraine Hart said...

Good question Kim, but house concerts are a culture all their own and the folk artists love them. Bigger venue, bigger requirements, many more hands in the pot, and a loss of that something very special. Some folks are very happy to make a survival living wage and be able to travel with their Art, especially getting to personally know their audiences. They become more and more popular with this economy...especially for those of us west of the Narrows.