Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Unorganized Hancock: Doing the Show So You Don't Have To
My two sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, played for the Skowhegan Maple Festival on Saturday.
We like Skowhegan. Everyone is always really pleasant to us in the only way it's possible to be pleasant to us: They're nice to our children. The town simply has a nice vibe. It's a hardscrabble place, just like the town we live in, but there's more life in it somehow. It seems more forward-looking than a lot of western Maine. There are more children than I'm used to seeing. Children are always the most forward-looking thing you can have.
It takes an hour and a half to get to Skowhegan from our house. That's considered "close by" where we live. The GPS always intones directions like, "Proceed for 27 miles." After 27 miles is over, Nuvi's clipped diction advises you to,"Keep right," even though there's no turn, and then, "Proceed for 26 miles."
The ribbon of pavement seems like it was laid solely to get us from Rumford to Skowhegan, and when we don't need it anymore, they'll give it back to the alces alces. If you want to be alone with your thoughts in western Maine, drive down the middle of the road from my house to Skowhegan. That's why we were a little surprised to find every parking space occupied when we arrived two hours early for the show. I haven't been in a full parking lot in Maine since never, which is a long time indeed.
The town had lots of goings-on, some whoop-de-do, and other assorted activities to celebrate the maple sugaring season that might never happen this year. It was the coldest winter ever in western Maine, and that's saying something. The sap is still frozen in the ground. My friends and neighbors rely on seasonal things like maple sugar and firewood and blueberries and Christmas trees to get by, and I wonder if this winter will be enough to break them. Regular people will just remark in July that it's deuced difficult to find a pint of maple syrup for less than eight bucks.
The audience in Skowhegan likes my children. They tell me so, with words and applause. They like them without quite knowing why -- the only kind of like that matters in show business. We are pleased to offer a little late winter sunshine to the nice people in Skowhegan.
There were other performers, and they boxed the compass of entertainment. A brave soul took a run at Brahms Third Racket, and another executed Asturias. There were a troupe of tapdancing girlettes that could have melted an investment banker's heart. There's a local fellow that sings the kinds of Broadway/cruise ship songs I don't care for until he sings them, and then I do care for them a lot.
I noticed quite a bit of bravery on stage. When people perform despite being afraid, that's bravery. In my experience, most people on stage are afraid the whole time. I always was afraid when I performed, deservedly so because I never practiced, but even really accomplished performers are on edge when they're on stage. It's part of the contract, I think. The only people not afraid to be onstage don't belong there.
There was also a band of brigands who played too long, then made an enormous ruckus behind the curtains by taking their stuff apart so they could leave early, while a brave young man was on stage trying to sing and play the guitar over their "four men in a coal mine" accompaniment. For an encore, these people with somewhere more important to be unplugged my sons' recording device on their way out the door. The only thing my boys were able to capture was from the ambient microphone in the camera hidden onstage behind their sign. It's enough to tell how it went. The boys Did the Show, like the pros they are.
The early leaver band members live in Skowhegan. We drove home for 90 minutes in a blizzard. That's what pros do. Even eleven-year-old pros.
[Update: Many thanks to Kathleen M. from Connecticut for her generous hit on our tip jar]
[Additional Update: Many thanks to William O from Tejas for his generous support!]