© 2004 by Spider Robinson; all rights reserved.
…silly as that seems. A few weeks ago, I had one of those peak experiences, from which I'm still reverberating.
The photos you'll find below are me, performing on Sunday, July 11, on one of the smaller stages (called "The Grassy Knoll") at the 2004 Vancouver Island Music Festival, in Courtenay, B.C. Jeanne took the photos.
On bass is Greg Carroll, whom I met five minutes before we went onstage. He did not know my music, couldn't read the sheet music blowing in the fierce breeze—and he not only never hit a wrong note, he hit a whole mess of right ones. I see two possibilities: either he is a telepath, and read my mind as I played…or he is a time traveler from the future, who had already heard a recording of this concert, and studied it closely. He's also, I later learned, the star pupil of Halifax's legendary Skip Beckwith, which explains a lot (Skipper and I go way back), and he's a totally sweet guy in the bargain.
And accompanying me on his famous red Telecaster is…The Man: the world's greatest living guitarist, Mr. Amos Garrett. This was the third time I've had the honor to blow with Amos live, and by far the best. That makes it one of the greatest thrills so far in an unusually lucky lifetime.
Jeanne sang a few songs with me to open the set…but while she did there was nobody to take photos. I wish there had been: she looked beautiful! We performed the Ray Charles/Betty Carter classic "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and with Amos's romantic guitar slithering all around it, I doubt we ever sang better. Also I got to recreate "Belaboring The Obvious" (the title song from my CD) live with Amos, and sing it to her. Joy!
In one or two shots the fondly smiling face of Doug Cox is visible behind the stage: the man without whom the gig would not have happened. Doug is the director/organizer of the Vancouver Island Music Festival, and did his usual superb job this year; I didn't hear a single complaint all weekend. Here's how dedicated he is: Doug is himself a first-rate dobro player, so good that Amos has sat in on more than one of his many albums…and Doug spent the whole festival surrounded by some of the best players in North America…and he did not take out his own axe once, all weekend. He was just too busy—making sure everybody else's gig went right. I cherish, therefore, those shots of him listening to me and Amos with a look of pure enjoyment on his face.
CBC was recording (!), and if they didn't blow it, I may be able to get my hands on at least some of it. Fingers crossed…
Among the many amazing acts I caught at the festival: Amos, Adrian Legg, Ken Whiteley, Ellen McIlwaine, Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook, Mark Perry from Smithers, BC, an amazing group called Nathan from Winnipeg, Annie Gallup…and an astonishing new guitar phenomenon, a 24-year-old woman named Kaki King who blew everyone away with her original compositions and dazzling chops. She's so good Adrian Legg accepted her as a peer onstage. She opened for Keb Mo's 2004 tour, and has appeared on Conan. Her first album is just coming out, and I recommend it sight unseen on the strength of the playing I heard at the festival.
Behold now, photos of the happiest man on the west coast that day: