My report on my birthday celebration, nearly a month ago, is long overdue. As I’ve reported in the past, I traditionally invite my three best friends up to the cabin for a week of music and photography, and this year was no exception. The only downside of the otherwise full-fledged fun that we had was that Rick, my oldest friend and the newest member of our band (Indian Summer) could not be with us because of recent surgery. But Tom and Ron made it, and this year we had a special agenda. Tom had made a date for us to give a concert in the Historic Ironwood (Michigan) Theater on my birthday. So, whereas we usually have spent about half of our daylight hours cruising the woods of northern Minnesota, this year we rearranged the furniture to simulate a stage and secluded ourselves indoors to settle on a final playlist and spent most of our time polishing up our act and (for Ron and me) building our calluses back up to performance levels (Tom teaches guitar at the local college and his are always in fine shape).
On the day of the concert, Ron and I drove the four hours to Ashland, Wisconsin, to pick up Tom (he’d gone home the night before to get all the gear we’d need into his car) and drop Limo off for an evening of boarding, and then we went on to Ironwood. We headed straight for the theater, unloaded our three guitars, bass, fiddle, two banjos, and Tom’s recording equipment, and got everything pretty much set up. Then a quick trip to the motel to check in Ron and me, and back to the theater for nearly three hours of sound checks; Tom is very experienced, very good at this, and a perfectionist. Finally, a quick trip out to the home of a friend of Tom’s for some fantastic wild turkey soup.
We had no real idea how many people would show up, but we were delighted to find that, by the time we started to play, we had an audience of around 150. We dedicated the concert to Rick and did two sets, for more than an hour and a half of music, and played only original material. All of us were very well pleased with our performance. The vast majority of the folks who came had never heard any of our music, and they were wonderfully enthusiastic. After the concert we had many compliments, sold a number of the CDs that Tom, Ron, and I had recorded during a previous lake session back in 2003, and received an invitation to put on another concert next year, so those who came can spread the word to others and expand our fan list. Several recordings (including video) were made, and we have high hopes of making a new CD with them.
The next morning Ron and I drove back to Tom’s (he’d gone back home with his family after the show), stopping for a view looking westward down the big hill at Maple, Wisconsin.
We went out for a Mexican feast with Tom & family, and I picked up Limo, who was exceedingly glad to see me again. Eager to stretch my legs and give him the opportunity to do so too, Tom and I paid a visit to a nearby campground where we’d spend many days in the past, and walked around one of the two small lakes between which our favorite camping spot is nestled. The northern Wisconsin colors were pretty much at their peak, and it was so good to get back into the lovely autumn woods again. Then back to the cabin once more, picking up a big pizza along the way. What a wonderful birthday!