SINGING IN THE RAIN by Fred Prout
There are three different stories here , so pay attention !
Among the many musical performers Rita and I absolutely loved, the very top of the list was Judy Collins. Over the years,we saw her in several different venues,from auditorium to small clubs. We loved her music, and had the good fortune to be able to spend a little ( too little) time with her.
Of all the places we saw her, the first one is the most memorable.
We saw an ad that Judy was going to perform outdoors in Groton, Connecticut, 8pm the following Friday. We lived about sixty five miles away,but we would have walked if we had to.
We got to the field about an hour early in a light drizzle. No one was particularly optimistic that the show would go on, but we all waited. Next thing we knew, they were handing out plastic garbage bags to use as rain gear. It was going to pour. A few people left ( better bleacher seats for us) but Judy Collins attracted a die-hard, dedicated group of fans.
We were chatting with our neighbors when we heard bagpipes in the distance. As we looked up, we could see Judy surrounded by two very large Scottish pipers in full regalia, followed by a third Scot holding an umbrella over her head.( A brief aside, when Rita and I were married, we were escorted to and from the church by two Scottish pipers ).
They brought her to the covered outdoor stage and they opened the show with the most inspiring rendition of Amazing Grace we had ever heard. Very few dry eyes among us. The rain worsened, but the audience was transfixed and that set the tone for the next ninety minutes. Not a sound from the audience except applause and the slight rustling of garbage bags. I think she gave us every song she ever sang. Some she wrote, some by Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. A folkies wet dream.
Fast forward a few years.
We were staying outside the marine base in Twenty Nine Palms, California. We got word that the Marine Corps band would perform a concert at two pm that coming Saturday. And best of all,it was free. We were excited.The United States Marine Corps band.Wow!!!
When we took our bleacher seats, the weather was slightly overcast with some clouds rolling in. About fifteen minutes after the show was to start, a marine came out and announced that the concert was canceled because of the weather.
The United States Marine Corps band was clouded out!
If only I could have summoned those three burly Scots and that tiny Irish lass from Groton.
To any former marines reading this, I apologize for any unintended comparison of the United States Marine Corps band and a group of felines. I’m sure there were reasons beyond the weather.
An unapologetic commercial. If you have never seen a movie called Taking Chance with Kevin Bacon, please try to do so. It takes place partly at Twenty Nine Palms, and is a most insightful portrayal of the character of these wonderful people who serve our country. I know Steve and Jackie have seen it. You should too.
Later that week we went to a concert by The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus. They put on a wonderful show. As we were getting ready to leave, a chorus member came over to us and thanked us for coming. They had noticed how much we enjoyed the show, and that we were the only ones different in the audience. He asked if Rita would accept a beaded necklace as a souvenir. Of course she did and she treasured it for years.
We chatted for a few minutes, and when he found out that Rita was a music major and a vocalist herself, his eyes lit up. Instant rapport.
Somehow , the irony of our being different, but nonetheless, accepted stayed in our minds forever.
The magic of music.