Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Scarborough Faire

Sunday the family and I paid a visit to Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie. We hadn't been in exactly 10 years, which is a shame, since prior to that I'd been an annual event for us. Scarborough holds a special place for us, since it was where I took The Wife on our first date. For a while I even had an annual pass and tromped around the grounds dressed up in my Herne the Hunter outfit. But once we moved from Temple to New Braunfels, the drive grew from 90 minutes to four hours. That's too far with a car full of impatient kids. So we stopped going.

Until this year. My brother, Chris, now has a place in Waco we were able to crash at on Saturday night, which made the drive the next day quite bearable. We even made it there before the gates opened, which was a first for us. It felt good to be back, but much had changed. Most importantly, all the skinny little trees had grown considerably over the intervening decade and now provided adequate shading (Scarborough used to be a guaranteed sunburn, no matter what). Sadly, the big open field where they had sheepdog demonstrations is now built up, and the fascinating dogs long gone. The mud show is gone as well. The pirate stage has been completely rebuilt. One section of the faire is now blocked off for corporate and group events. The entertainment was, well, entertaining, although it really felt like there was much less in the way of live music than what I remember. The Gypsy Guerrilla Band wasn't there, which I found disappointing, but on the plus side, Donal Hinely was there, and put on an amazing show with the glass harmonica. I first saw him way back in the day when he played guitar accompaniment for his brother, Terry, who played the glass harmonica in the group Glasnots. I've got several of their albums, "Mayfly Matinee" being a particular favorite. Tragically, Terry was killed in a traffic accident, but Donal had learned from his brother and now has become an amazingly accomplished and inventive glass player in his own right. We listened through his whole set, and were treated to an engaging history lesson and personal stories as well as wonderful music. I bought his newest CD, "Glass Stories," which is available on his website and features some brilliant original compositions (including my favorite, the title track) as well as covers of classic songs. He's also got a new Americana CD out, "The Famous Rocket Cage," which I'm going to have to get as well (worth it for the cover art alone). I've got an earlier Americana disc of his, "We Built a Fire," and can attest that the tracks are professional and pleasing to the ear, mixing in a bit of country, a bit of rock and a bit of folk to good effect.

During Hinely's show, the Bug sat next to me and fidgeted, alternately engrossed in the musical performance then desperate to run off to find a wooden sword to buy. "How does he do that?" he demanded, watching Hinely coax ethereal notes out of the water-filled wine glasses. Then he wanted to run off and look at ponies or something. I thought the show was wasted on the boy, although Monkey Girl and Fairy Girl were entranced. Fast forward to today. When I got home, Bug met me at the door and announced he wanted to play the glass harmonica. That's what he said. I didn't think he'd even heard the name on Sunday. But he insists on getting down wine glasses, explains to me that we have to fill them with different levels of water to get different notes, and that our fingers have to be clean and wet to make the sound properly. He parroted things Hinely said almost verbatim! He struggled at first, but eventually got the rim of the wine glass to resonate with his fingers. Then he demanded that I set up an entire octave (although he didn't actually say "octave"). I had to put the kibosh on that, but I was heartened to see how much Bug had actually absorbed in his brief exposure to Hinely. Not bad for a 6-year-old. If he maintains interest, I'll have to start hitting the thrift shops to get him his own set of musical wine glasses.

We're definitely going to have to make Scarborough a regular stop from here on out.

Now Playing: Miles Davis Kind of Blue
Chicken Ranch Central

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