The Jam Tent at Clearwater

Last night I caught a re-run of Pete Seegar's 90th birthday party at MSG.  It reminded me that I meant to write a little bit about my experience at this year's Father's Day weekend Clearwater Festival in Croton, NY.  I grew up 1 town away from Croton and for whatever reason I had never been to this informative and fun event - which I think has been going for 30 or so years (basically, my entire life).     

I had the pleasure of managing the "Jam Tent" for a few hours both Saturday and Sunday.  It's a new tent at the festival and its point is to allow one and all to come and sing or play a song with whomever is sitting around in the circle.  It's organic and loose, so my job was to use my middle school classroom management skills to keep the songs rotating around the circle in a subtle and fair way.  I wasn't sure what to expect, and I always lack a little confidence in "jamming" with others.  Of course, 20 minutes into it I relaxed finding there was nothing to worry about.  It was a beautiful sunny day, the folks who came to sing or play or listen were lovely, and everyone behaved (of course)! 

What I loved most about the Jam Tent was that it reinforced to me that everyone has somethng special and creative to offer, and you can never tell what that special something might be just by looking at a person.  Men, women and children came to sing and play in our tent.  Young, old, Latino, White, Black, Asian, short hair, no get the idea.  A little girl with long brown curly hair and thick framed glasses of about 9 years old curiously walked over with her parents and we asked her if she had any requests.  What do you think she might have said?  Carole King!  The next thing we knew this lovely 4th grader is belting out a Carole King classic and us adults in the circle are all just stunned by her talent and confidence.  She brought the house down!  Later on that day someone mentioned that Clarence Clemons, saxophonist in Springsteen's E Street Band, had just passed away.  The members of the circle did a fun sing along of Thunder Road, helping each other along when someone forgot the bridge chords, or some of the many lyrics.  It was a bonding experience.  I also greatly enjoyed one man who stopped by and played "Rose in Spanish Harlem" on his harmonica and sang the verses in a deep husky voice.  Totally unexpected.  At one point the lovely and talented Maura Kennedy wandered over, sat down and sang a heartwarming duet "Love Hurts" with my friend Rick - right off the cuff!  I'm smiling just remembering how organic both afternoons really were.       

If you  missed the Clearwater Festival this year - go check it out here.  I hope to see you back there next year!    


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