Time flies like an arrow
It’s a luxury, both as performer and an audience, when a show stretches out like one long story. Everyone listening. Songs intertwined with tales of the road, lost weekends, lost friends, and lost love.
Eric Taylor had that luxury as a performer at a house concert in Irondequoit recently. It must appeal to him. He regularly schedules similar shows, driving State to State to play for a roomful of attentive listeners. Some old fans, some new fans, and some who were dragged along.
But everyone listens as if they were in church, even if they can’t quite remember what that means.
For folk musicians it’s not a bad way to go. Free lodging, most likely a meal of two provided, and not a bad payday. Throw in merchandise sales and the extra perks (like a bottle of scotch that night), it makes for a pretty good weekend gig.
For the audience alone it would be worth it. There are many such shows in Rochester featuring a range of nationally touring artists, and regional musicians. Of course it doesn’t include health care benefits.
Eric Taylor was one of the nationals. Up from Texas, or at least hailing from Texas, it seems he could make a career from just telling stories about being Townes Van Zandt’s friend. Townes is no longer around to correct or confirm these stories, which makes it very convenient.
Great stories, and many, laid out like a net he tossed his songs into. A seamless stream of images and music. Filling in details as if the night were a novel being revealed.
Mr. Taylor was very accommodating, talking with anyone who wished to say hello after the show. I had the chance to speak with him briefly and mentioned that I have a radio show each morning. He was seemingly pretty excited about coming in for a visit the next morning. We made the arrangements, he’d be leaving town at that time anyway, and stop by on his way out. Rick Simpson, house concert entrepreneur, would accompany him.
I got a call at the station as the two of them were driving in, to let me know it was imminent. I got a second call ten minutes later. It was Rick. Eric had been following him in his car, but ever so subtly slipping behind at a slower pace. Rick slowed, not to lose him. They came to a split in the highway, Rich went south, looked back in his mirror just in time to see Eric heading east out of town.
The night before I had given this radio appearance a 25 percent chance of happening. After seeing him at the house concert he didn’t owe me anything. Would have been nice to bring some of that to the Rochester radio audience, but it wouldn’t have been the same as being in that small room for an intimate show. The radio is not the same as a house concert.
And then there was the scotch...