Saturday, March 14, 2009
Keepin' it real in Iowa
I suppose every entertainer needs a humbling performance now and then -- just to keep us...well...humble. I had one today at Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines, Iowa.
A lovely crowd, a helpful and gracious host, a beautiful day, and I got there with plenty of time to set up. All the makings of a great show. But, from my standpoint, it was not a showcase event. Aside from my second-string guitar fritzing, batteries on guitar transmitter going out (amateur mistake), a daddy-weary voice, jangled nerves from the three-hour drive up there, and botched lyrics, it was, after all, the kids who made it truly wonderful.
Even on my off days, I have the best job in the world. The kids had fun; the parents were in to it, and all is well. And I learned (again) some lessons in preparedness.
I must say here -- for the record -- that I love Iowa. I've been performing there a couple of times a year for the past eight years and it's a refreshingly progressive state (much like Minnesota and Wisconsin) whose citizens seem to place importance on education and the arts as essential cultural pillars. And Jack Kerouac was on to something when he wrote in On the Road “... the prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines.”
(Des Moines trivia: Merle Hay was the first Iowan to die in action in WWI. He probably couldn't even comprehend the concept of a "mall." Now, he's got one named after him.)