Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dinner and a Movie at the Altona Grange

Dave and I are members of the Altona Grange. We first encountered this Grange when Dave's original band, Coal Creek, did some shows there back in the 2004 time frame. The Grange is over 100 years old, and was in a terrible state at that time. I still remember that before one show, my good friend Sharon Dooley and I were cleaning mouse droppings off the windowsills.

But, a couple of years later, things changed. More people got involved in the grange, and joined the Altona Grange membership. A key person was Donlyn Arbuthnot, whose family was part of the original grange membership. She began to tout the importance of the hall and its heritage. The members took on projects to renovate and update the building. Now, six years later, it is thriving and beautiful--newly painted, new roof, landscaping, and not a mouse dropping in sight.

The Colorado Bluegrass Music Society, which Dave and I are involved in, teams with the Grange for a fall bluegrass show series, and Dave books the bands and emcees the shows. Last fall, we decided that we would join the Grange, really searching for a group that we could feel a sense of community with.

Last night was the second event that we attended since joining. Dinner was a wonderful western barbeque meal, served by Flatirons Barbeque--also members of the Grange. The preliminary film was a Bugs Bunny cartoon--I can't remember when the last time was that I watched one, and it was a hoot. The main event movie was "Stagecoach." This was a John Ford movie, which was also one of the first appearances of John Wayne. He was youthful and handsome and great. I told Dave later that the hall and event reminded me of our days in Germany back in the 1980's, where we attended events at the military Community Recreation Centers. There was the same sense of community.

The members have really welcomed us into the Grange. It was a fun evening and we are so enjoying being part of the Altona community.

Couple of Shots of Dave

Here are a couple of shots of Dave in his musical world.

Coal Creek, Dave's original bluegrass band that played together for five years, reunited for a charity gig this past summer. The guys had one practice, and Brian, the bass player, flew into town from Kentucky to make it happen. They look the same and said they had a great time. I know Dave really enjoyed playing with them again.

Here's another shot of Dave from the jamming area at the Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival. Our good friend, Jon Garson, sent me that picture, with a caption of 'A Youthful Dave Patton!' I was delighted to get it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mid-Winter 2011: The Evolution of a Bass Player

Every year we go to the Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival in Denver. It's always Presidents Day weekend, and we get a room at the Ramada Inn and play our instruments all weekend with friends and strangers. This past weekend, the event was really special because I got to play on stage and I came home feeling that I had just experienced the high point of my musical journey so far.

Our band, Steel Pennies, opened the festival by playing the first slot on the main stage. The room is a big ballroom and it was full of people. We had practiced a ton to get ready, and it was so exciting! Our set went over great. A lot of people came up afterwards and complimented us on our performance. That was at 11:45 on Saturday morning. Saturday evening we played again on the small acoustic stage, and everything again went great. We felt we played well and it is really fun when you are riding up the elevator and strangers tell you how much they enjoyed hearing you play. Our practice and lots of debate over the set list definitely paid off.

In addition to having two successful performances, I got to pick with some very stellar musicians and that was also very exciting for me. What a weekend!

The Comfort of Dreams

The movie about hijacking dreams,"Inception" has been sitting on our coffee table, waiting for us to have time to watch it. We finally did last night. I was a little leery; my hairdresser told me that she was really lost in that movie, and I figured I would be too--especially since I was totally lost in Christopher Nolan's other movie, "Memento."

Oddly, something dream-related happened right before we watched the movie. My sister-in-law, Stacy, called to tell me that she had a dream about her husband and my brother Mike who passed away so suddenly two and a half years ago. Stacy said that in the dream he came to her and they were kissing and hugging each other, and crying. Stacy told everyone in the family about this. It was a huge thing to her, since Mike died of a heart attack and neither she nor anyone else had a chance to tell him goodbye. I was so glad that this dream seemed to really comfort her. She said that when she told my mom about it, Mom started crying and said she wished she could have that dream. I guess we all wish we could.

David and I then watched the movie. I had to stop it at one point and clarify with him that I was following things correctly. David was right on top of things; it wasn't confusing to him at all. I really did like it, as it felt like we were watching a puzzle being worked. When everything came full circle at the end of the movie, and we were back where we started (just like Pulp Fiction--I loved when that happened), we were both delighted. The phases of the dreams entertained me throughout. The scene would switch to the van and I would think 'Phase 1' and then they would switch to the battle in the snowy fortress and I would think 'Phase 3!' The story was incredibly creative.

Even as I watched, I would think back for a minute to Stacy and how she and Mike were reunited in her dream. Those thoughts were juxtaposed with an ongoing feeling throughout the movie that it was hard work hijacking dreams and I would never want that job!