Go to a Watermelon Wednesday
About a year ago one of my Jazzercise friends told me about a concert series she goes to every year. She told me every Wednesday there is a show in small chapel in West Whately. She said the shows are perfect for musicians who are touring and need something to do in the middle of the week they’re called “Watermelon Wednesdays” because during intermission, watermelon is served for all the people at the show. I thought this was a really cool idea and put it on this year’s summer goal list, since it is absolutely perfect for summer (live music and watermelon!)
I went on the Watermelon Wednesdays website and checked out who was playing and when. The website has really good descriptions of the artist/band. I didn’t recognize any of the artists or bands so I decided to go with the show August 28: Bruce Molsky and Paula Bradley because it was music I was not too familiar with. Here in the description according to the Watermelon Wednesdays website:
In addition to a prolific solo career, performing on fiddle, guitar, and banjo, Molsky frequently joins genre-busting supergroups, like the Grammy-nominated Fiddlers Four, and Mozaik, with Hungarian Nikola Parov, and Celtic giant Donal Lunny. He was on Nickel Creek’s farewell tour, and performs in a trio with Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and Sweden’s great Ale Moller. “America’s reigning old time fiddler,” says Matt Glaser, fiddler-educator. “The Rembrandt of Appalachian fiddle,” says Darol Anger, fiddler. “There’s an incredible power of history and tradition in his vocals,” Linda Ronstadt, singer. Paula Bradley is known for her driving guitar style, rhythmic clawhammer banjo and banjo ukulele playing, and strong vocals, as well as for her accomplished flatfoot dancing, she recently toured as the banjoist for the celebrated all-girl string band Uncle Earl. She also plays piano and sings with the NE-based honky tonk band “Girl Howdy”.
I ordered the tickets August 3rd because I had heard that sometimes the tickets sell out quick. There’s a link next to every artist description to buy “online tix” and from there it’s really simple to do and pay. I got an email with the tickets attached that I printed out and I patiently waited until it was the day of the show.
Finally the day approached and my mom and I headed to West Whately to the show. The directions attached to the tickets were kind of confusing so if you plan on going I would look it up on Google Maps or Mapquest or something and then print out those directions. DO NOT RELY ON A GPS! The service in Whately is no good.
We found the place pretty easily though, due to all the cars parked in front of the church. We parked on the side street to the left of the church (if you get there early enough, you can park in front of the church) and headed towards the chapel.
In front of the chapel there was a small tent with a table underneath it. Right away I noticed four large watermelons sitting on top of it with a cutting board, some paper towels, and some water. I wondered when we were going to eat the watermelon…Was it before the show or do we eat in our seats while the music plays? I had no idea how this whole thing was going to work out but apparently everyone else did. They just walked right in, unfazed entirely by the large watermelons.
We walked in the very crowded chapel and came into kind of a parlor or lobby. There were people taking tickets and some tables with the artist’s CDs and DVDs. We walked into the big room and I was surprised to see so many people. It was basically all the way full. Instead of church pews, there were wooden chairs lined in rows and divided in the center with an aisle. My mom and I found two seats next to each other in the back row, right next to a big air conditioner, which was nice because it was a warm night and we were in a small church.
A few minutes later Paul Newlin, the organizer of Watermelon Wednesdays, took the stage and gave a spiel about the toilet and how it’s tricky to maneuver. He was really funny. He asked if there were any newcomers to the event; only a few people, my mom and I included, raised our hands. Paul gave Bruce Molsky and Paula Bradley and nice introduction and they took the stage.
The show was truly incredible. The first song they did (I forgot the name of it) had me shocked at the talent of these two people. As I mentioned, I’m not familiar with the fiddle but I was so impressed with how face his fingers were moving. Paula’s guitar sounded so nice and really complemented the fiddle and vise versa. Bruce played the fiddle, the banjo, and sang while Paula played guitar, a banjo ukulele, sang, and during one song flatfoot danced. The flatfoot dancing sounded awesome, but, being in the back, I couldn’t see it.
One thing I really liked about the show was that Bruce and Paula took the time to explain the name the song, tell its story, where it came from, and who did it originally. I really liked this; it was nice that they really respected the music they were playing and wanted to share their knowledge with everyone else. They also talked a lot about their instruments.
The pair was really funny. Bruce told a funny joke:
There are three types of musicians; those who can count, and those who can’t.
The audience really loved it.
I felt like Bruce and Paula and everyone in the room were my friends. Everyone was enjoying the same thing together. People were smiling almost at all times. A few songs had choruses that were sing along-able. Everyone loved that. Here’s a video of the song “Scandalous and A Shame”:
About an hour into the show, we had intermission and as Bruce said, “I think something special happens here during intermission?” Everyone got up and filed out of the church. Under the tent where I had saw the watermelons earlier were slices of watermelon – TONS of it. There were cups for water and everyone was happy with how sweet it tasted. People were talking about the show and other things and my mom and I ran into some of her coworkers and we talked to them a while.
During intermission I told Bruce about my blog and asked to take a picture with him. What a nice guy!
After intermission, Bruce and Paula played for another hour or so. At one point they invited a girl to the stage, a freshman in college at Hampshire who was an incredible fiddler!
It was such a nice, fun night. The music was awesome and I got to learn more about the genre and instuments. Everyone there was really nice and looked like they were having an awesome time. I HIGHLY recommend going to a Watermelon Wednesday.
For more information:
Bruce Molsky: http://www.brucemolsky.com/
Paula Bradley and her band, Girl Howdy: http://www.girlhowdyband.com/bio.html
Watermelon Wednesdays: http://www.watermelonwednesdays.com/
- Bruce Molsky, Paula Bradley: Whatley, MA 8/28/13 (oldtimeparty.wordpress.com)
Oh, and here’s a video I found of Paula flatfoot dancing!