Last weekend, I had a uniquely Minnesota experience. I attended a folk and jazz concert at the general store in a neighboring town. On the weekends, the general store’s top floor turns into a music venue, and a donated spread of homemade food is made available along a side wall for a small donation. Beer and water are sold for cheap alongside freshly popped popcorn and hot tea that’s brewed on the old wood stove (varieties included Egyptian Licorice and PMS tea for those feeling a little irritable). Three sections of wooden benches are placed in rows around the room and a small area in front of the stage is left open for dancing. The whole place has a dusty, other-world feel, enhanced by the free and roaming basset hounds and billy goat (more on that later).
The opening act included a “gal” by the name of Barbara Jean. She really knocked the socks off my friend Kipp, and won over every heart in the room with her beautiful voice and talent on the violin and banjo. Her sketch-patterned tights had people murmuring about whether her legs were covered in tattoos while I, who knew better, sat wondering how she managed to pull off matching a tight black dress with reddish-brown leather boots. Her necklace, a long silver chain with three silver feather charms, sat below the shelf of her breasts and caught the light as she twisted this way and that way with her violin tucked under her chin. Her voice was everything that a folk singer’s voice should be – soft and sensual and a little high on the end notes. She told a story with each song and in retrospect, I should have bought her CD to listen to on these cold winter nights.
The main act delivered “Rad” to us, alternating between the piano and accordion. He had this amazing, blue accordion – the most tricked out accordion I’ve ever seen. It was electric blue and had a red and yellow square diagram that was displayed proudly every time he stretched his arms and the notes out wide. He jammed out on the piano and the audience gave him the quiet respect that he deserved.
During intermission, I befriended a 10 day old billy goat, whose fur was surprisingly soft and fuzzy and pleasant to touch. He chased dropped popcorn around the old wooden general store while I chased him around and around, between rows of bench seats and past the checked table cloth decorating the food spread until I caught him and, scooping up his little body and pressing it to mine, I posed for a picture, his little heart beating against my hand, so fast in his chest. A folk & jazz concert, in a general store, with a live, roaming goat. Now that’s what I call a Saturday night!