Every summer, first with The Red Sticks, now with the Revelers we navigate the perilous wilderness of Interstate 95 and somehow reach Kate Vivian’s house in quaint Saunderstown Rhode Island. Kate is what you would call a patron of the arts. She’s not rich, mind you, but she does have a nice house, and between her and a couple of the neighbors manages to put us up comfortably.
We usually stay here about a week in the summer. It’s right by the bay and you can see the bridge to Newport hovering over the water. The breeze off the ocean cools the air and time seems to move slower here than anywhere else. Things seem to me like a Norman Rockwell painting, a gentle innocence from a bygone era that exists in our reverie. Children swimming, sailboats, and Brickley’s Ice Cream all form a scene of peace and tranquility, where doors are never locked and the sludge of the rest of the world somehow can’t find us.
Kate has had her piano tuned (my favorite piano in the whole wide world) in anticipation of our visit, and is delighted by the sounds of our rehearsals, as we prepare for Western and Swing week at Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp in Olive Bridge New York, tucked away in the Catskills.
Western Swing (THE great American music) serves as the perfect musical backdrop for the scene,as the rehearsals carry on through the afternoon,Appalacian fiddle tunes hot swing ala Benny Goodman,and sentimental tunes,often conjuring images of the tumbleweeds and nights under the prairie moon singing with our old saddle pals. These sentimental songs,often written in a high rise in Manhattan by a Jewish immigrant show America and the west not in it’s jaded, homogenized reality, but as a dream and a vision kept safe in our heart and in these songs, to be sung in Rhode Island and New Jersey by those who will never actually ride the Navajo Trail.
So let’s hear those fiddles harmonize and dust off the words to those songs that once again transport us, as great art always does, to our special place. The horses are watered and it’s time once again to return to our boots and saddle, even if the trail is ole Interstate 95.