The Dave Rawlings Machine At The Ace Hotel

I went to hear “Look At Miss Ohio.”

But I heard so much more.

When I was in elementary school we sang. We’d open up books of songs that I still remember to this day and then sing in unison, loudly. That self-conscious want to fit in ethos of the millennial? We didn’t have it. We were going to the moon, we were pushing the envelope, our futures were so bright we had to wear shades, even though no one did, we all squinted in the summer.

And when the Beatles hit we all got guitars and songbooks and learned how to play their songs which we sang. Would happen spontaneously a cappella. You’d be with a bunch of friends, hanging out, and one would drop a line and you’d all join in.

Just like you did at summer camp, when folk songs which were embedded in the national consciousness were vocalized around the campfire. Don’t ask me how I knew “Blowin’ In The Wind,” I just did. Even though Bob Dylan was not yet a household name and my family owned no Peter, Paul & Mary albums.

But we did have a piano. Music was important. We studied it at school, it wasn’t about money so much as being intertwined with the culture, part of the fabric of our society.

And I was brought back to those days when I saw the Dave Rawlings Machine last Saturday night.

There was no drummer. No backdrop. Some lights.

And a full house. Of people my age. How did they know?

You see boomers follow the scene, they’re less interested in trends than satiation, and they’ve decided Dave and Gillian are satisfying.

And they were.

Their act was filled out with a couple of fiddle players, and a standup bass. It reminded me of our old pharmacist, Marc Zimmerman, proprietor of Marc’s Drugs in Bridgeport, who’d schlep his double bass to a party, our parents were always having parties. No photos were posted on Instagram, but memories were made.

And memories were made Saturday night.

I loved hearing Dave append Neil Young’s “Cortez The Killer” to “Method Acting.” And he sang that number he cowrote with Ryan Adams, the opener to “Heartbreaker,” “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High).” Dave’s an in demand producer, those who are looking for authenticity employ him.

And Gillian started off on Almo and then went indie, she got to do it her way, but the truth is her audience supported her, it’s all about fans.

And the best song was the second, “Bodysnatchers,” which sounded like a summer night on the porch long after dark with little light. There was amplification, but the instruments were acoustic. It was the same as it ever was.

And when we all helped Willie Watson now solo after Old Crow Medicine Show sing “Stewball”…

I was brought back to what once was, I remembered how much fun, how satisfying it is to SING!


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