It is the Festival At Sandpoint and that means hordes of tourists come in from all over to see musicians of mediocre fame. When we stumbled upon Sandpoint one year ago, it was festival week as well and there was not a room available and town seemed alive!
We learned that the rest of the year our beloved town is much calmer and we have enjoyed the changing of seasons.
This year we were gifted some tickets for the opening act; Arlo Guthrie. Age 68 he put on an impressive one-man show of significant cultural value. His father had been a famous folk singer and Arlo made name for himself at the 1969 Woodstock festival.
Obviously I had no idea who this dude was and friends kept telling me ‘he wrote This Land Is Your Land and Alice’s Restaurant!’ looking at me with a great smile anticipating my embarrassed and obvious ‘oooooohh that guy!’
But that never came because this was too new to me.
So the evening was great and we met with some friends and brought food and wine and sat on the Sandpoint sport field while the sun went down. I felt a little stunted in mid-walk to the loos when a massive flag was carried on stage and the anthem was sung. The only reason I noticed in the first place was because everybody suddenly rose to their feet, removed all hats and placed their right hand over their heart.
I really have to go but I felt obliged to stop, turn and listen to a local singer howl out in full patriotic voice the anthem. ‘Oh crap, might as well pay attention to the lyrics for when I do my citizenship test’ I thought. It’s good to see that my friends didn’t hold their heart and one of them didn’t even take her hat off!
Finally this guy is ending on the highest note he could (but really shouldn’t) ‘… and the hoooome of thaaa braaaaaaave!’
And all returns to normal.
Guthrie sang both his famous songs, Alice’s Restaurant being a 20 minute monologue about, well, all sorts of things except the restaurant. If you’re interested you can listen to it here.
To me these evenings are a priceless contribution to my integration into the United States. I had people around me who could tell me the history of these songs (my uncle was a radio DJ in Seattle) and what better way to learn about a country than through folk music?
Fireworks went off at the end of the show and I’m looking forward to an office party at the Festival on Thursday and the closing symphony orchestra show next Sunday. There will be fireworks then, too.