Abby came into the Gathering with the same sort of trepidation I came with on my first time. Would she like it? Would she be good enough? Would she find friends? As it turned out; Abby came to the Gathering with an open mind, and an open heart. As a result, she had friends in the first couple of hours, and settled into the spirit of the Gathering right away. A couple of quotes from Abby that best describe her feelings - On Sunday afternoon, after registration but before dinner: “I haven’t even been here two hours; it hasn’t started yet; and this is AWESOME!” On Wednesday: “If ‘pre-camp Abby’ could see ‘current Abby’; ‘pre-camp Abby’ would be like: “Damn, girl!” Abby made a great core circle of friends including Aron Stornaiuolo, Eli Yacinthe, John Maddrey, Ashley Owens, and more! She learned a lot in her classes with Adam Rafferty, but learned possibly even more outside of class with her friends. She cried many times at the Folk faculty concert, as did we all. She emerged from the week engaged, and with a new appreciation for everything that happens.
My experience was another amazing one. My classes were few, but effective. Adam Rafferty’s fingerstyle Beatles and Improve Your Groove classes were incredibly helpful. After 14 years, though, I have to say – classes have dipped into the minority in terms of reasons I come to the Gathering now. You people are my tribe. I come to see everyone, to jam, to play with everyone, to drink in the music.
BeatleScream™ was another great one. It was even more satisfying to look up while playing and see my daughter with her guitar, chunking through the tunes in the early going, and dancing like a fool with her friends in the later going. 52 songs in 3:14 with no break. (Well, I did take a bio break during one guitar only tune, but that hardly counts).
There were lots of great jams, including Sunday night with John Tosco, Aron, Eli, and Abby and some others singing; one down by the food truck with Vicki Genfan, Abby, and an assortment of others filtering in and out. Hitting them with Vicki’s “One By One” was a magic moment; and a great jazz/swing jam Friday night with Adam Rafferty, Aron, Abby, Jay Witham, and many others – it’s a great feeling reading tunes out of the Real Book, looking up, and seeing your daughter playing along like she’s been there for years.
But my “Swannanoa Moment” of the week came Tuesday evening, rehearsing for the Wednesday faculty concert with Don, Jon, Tom, and Amy. We were playing a Don Juans song, so Tom wasn’t playing, but he was sitting there just watching me. Sorta squinting. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, but I started to get a little self-conscious, like I was doing something wrong. We finished the song, and Tom said to me “You know, I could listen to you play bass all night long.” I’m never gonna forget that one.
Plus, I got to cap off the week by going to the Don Juans/Tom Paxton concert at the Isis Music Hall in Asheville; knowing I'd be going up to play a song or two, but ending up doing the entire 2nd set! Doesn't get a whole lot better than that.