Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Indian Summer Tour comes to town


The Indian Summer Tour is here

I look up and there’s Amanda. First time I’ve seen her in seven months. And Amelia, now eight years old. And Jen, the performance painter I’ve never met before. They’ve finally arrived here after traveling over 3000 miles from Portland, Oregon to New York City. Stopping along the way to sing, play, paint.  And sell ice cream.

Amelia is shy at first. It’s been awhile. But she begins to open up. I get Angelo’s angelitos for each of them.

We go out to look at her ice cream truck. With its pop up stage. Then we walk down to what Amanda calls the Blue Pub for lunch and conversation. There’s an hour on the parking meter. Then we drive down and park in front of the Gate. RL and Joe come out. Amanda and Jen decide to do  an impromptu mini-concert right on Amsterdam. They put up the stage and climb on top of the truck. A crowd starts to gather. They sing their Ice Cream Ladies song.  And then another, then finish with Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. And we’re singing along in our own rough harmonies.

Then it’s up to 87th to stop in front of Rachel’s. I go in and help her walk out. She’s amazed to see the ice cream truck. And Amanda. Traffic is coming. We’ve only got a few moments. Amanda has to leave for Woodstock. And I walk Rachel back inside and stop for conversation.  They’ll be back.
Amanda and Rachel

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Rudolfo comes in. His sad look is gone. Cuba has given him a visa and a ticket home. Come November he’ll be heading back to Cuba for the first time in 30 years. I keep trying to imagine what it must have been like at the consulate when he walked in. Let me get this straight. You’ve been here 30 years and you want to go back to Cuba?
He’s on his way home.

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Saturday. And they’re back. The little chapel is set up with Amanda’s unique touch. She has asked Cara to sit for a portrait. Cara is very moved. Amanda does a full set. And Jen paints Cara. And Amelia does her own painting. And joins Amanda for a few songs with an uncanny sense of harmony and style. Still, she is only eight.

The chapel is filled with many old friends. Singers. Players. Friends. Marsha has come. When Amanda has finished her set, Cara’s portrait is almost finished. RL takes on his role as host and we take turns performing. Jeremy plays some then plays for me while I sing. Later I sing So Lonesome….with Pat and then Amanda joins me on my Well Song. 
Bob, Amanda, RL

At the night’s conclusion, the whole stage is filled with an all star line up to sing RL’s closer Stay Awhile, which Amanda had played earlier on her uke. As the crowd gathers, RL says Look how many people are coming up here to correct her version…And as we crowd around the mikes and add our raucous harmonies arms around each other, for the first time in a long time, I am feeling happy. This is where the tour should end. (Although there is still a set tomorrow night at the legendary Bitter End and the Amanda will join Neil Howard for a couple.)  Everything that is going on here goes back to Amanda helping me see that this closed up water ruined church could live again.  And it is. Always on edge.  But very much alive. (see the very first blog entry
Cara and Jen

Grand finale
Jen, Amanda and Amelia pick up Cara and head north on Amsterdam  on their way to a girls’ slumber party.

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We sang one last time last night at 78 Below.  Another gathering of friends. And today is completely consumed by planning and reports to keep things alive with Presbytery. Amanda would like me to go with her to Rachel’s but I can’t break away. So she goes up to visit RL in his studio. And then there’s only time for a quick hug and I watch her down the steps (she’s the one that told me sweep the steps, every day…reclaim your church… ) and heading for a cab to the airport. Too soon. Too soon. 

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