Sunday, February 05, 2006

News from Mary Youngblood's Concert

Wow, what an evening we had last night. Mary Youngblood and a few of her friends put on an awesome show at the Grass Valley Center for the Arts. In typical Mary style, she had an intimate connection with the audience throughout the whole evening. I'll tell you what, I wouldn't want to see Mary in any larger venue, it's so special be that close to her during the show. I first saw Mary in concert at East West Bookstore in Mountain View. It was right after her first album and at that show there was probably 20 people in the audience.

I'll talk more about Mary's flute playing in a moment, but one of the things that I personally love about Mary's stage presence are the stories which she tells before each song. Her storytelling gives you that extra insight into why each song is important to her, and makes it that more special when you hear it. My favorite story for the evening was the one in which Mary recounted the birth of her first granddaughter, born last summer on Mary's birthday. Which by the way also happens to be the birthday of Mary's daughter-in-law, three generations born on the same day!

First of all it was a sold out show, which is a great tribute to Mary's talent. We arrived a hour before the show, to setup the NCFC table and to get a good seat. We were fortunate to get a seat in the second row, right in front of Mary's mic.

In the first set, Mary started out playing many of the familar and favorite tunes from her first couple albums. Then she brought out the band to join her in some of the songs. She had a guitarist, a percussionist and a guy on blues harp. Unfortunately I can't remember all of the names of the other performers, but they all played wonderfully. Mary had provided a bag of rattles for the audience to use in the audience participation part of the evening. We all joined her and the band in 4 or 5 tunes throughout the evening.

The best part of the evening was that we were fortunate to catch a preview of some of the new songs on her new album which is coming out in the spring. I can't wait to hear the whole album when it hits the streets in April. Mary sang for us on several of the songs, which was a real treat.

She also played several songs, including a great little blues tune, on a tiny little root flute.

The NCFC's own Francesa Reitano, from the Capitol Clan, made an appearance on stage with Mary. The two of them played a wonderful duet, "dancing with the flutes" as Mary highlighted the experience for folks in the audience.

The biggest surprise of the evening came from Sharon Downer, another NCFC member, who gifted Mary with a special guitar from Sharon's late husband. Sharon read a touching poem and the punchline was that the guitar was the "gift that keeps on giving". Mary was really touched, as were most of us in the audience (I know that I was). Sharon was joined on stage by three of her grandchildren for the moment.

Working the mic as MC for the evening was
Skip Allen Smith from KVMR. Skip hosts the show "Dreamwalk" on Thursdays at 10 AM. You can listen to Dreamwalk streaming over the internet if you don't live in the Grass Valley area. Skip told me after the show that Mary donated a flute to the KVMR pledge drive last week, and it generated $1000 in raffle for the show.

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