Wilderness Plots @ the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, IN on 9/13/08:
This was my third time seeing the Wilderness Plots show. The first time I saw it was in Danville, IN in March of 2007, and this concert was only the second time the show was performed. The second time was in Batavia, IL this past July, a concert I talked about in one of my previous blogs here. Because I've already blogged about the show itself in detail and folks can read the background information in another post, I won't repeat that here. Instead, I'll focus on what made this particular Wilderness Plots experience special.
The first of these things was getting to share the whole concert experience with people who are dear to me. My friend Jenn, who accompanies me on the vast majority of my music adventures, was along for this road trip to Bloomington, and along the way, we picked up our friend Willa at the airport in Indianapolis to join us. Willa has long been enjoying the Wilderness Plots book and CD, but this was her first chance to see the live show in its entirety, so we were thrilled she was able to fly in from Virginia and be part of the festivities. The only disappointment for this weekend was the absence of our friend Natalie, who lives in Houston and had been scheduled to fly into Indy shortly before Willa so we could pick them both up at the airport prior to the show. As you probably guessed when I mentioned Houston, Hurricane Ike grounded Natalie there and prevented her from making the trip. We missed her throughout the weekend, particularly since she has also been enjoying the Wilderness Plots music and has yet to see the live show, but the most important thing is she and her home are safe. The exterior of her residence sustained some damage, but she suffered no broken glass or interior damage, was never without water, and was only without power for a short time. So, even though she was sorely missed, we're extremely glad she's okay and already looking forward to the next time we can all get together.
The second thing that made this Wilderness Plots concert special was the location. All of the folks that are involved in this show live no more than an hour or so from downtown Bloomington, so the performers were playing to a hometown crowd, and you could feel the energy and excitement in the air. The applause was hardy and genuine after each song performed, folks laughed in all the right places (a couple even called out comments at various points of the narrative portions), and the standing ovation at the end was immediate. There's just something special about being part of an audience where so many people have a personal connection to the performers. It adds an element of interest, I think. Having been to Bloomington for previous concerts, we also had the enjoyment of seeing several folks we recognized who also recognized us in the crowd, and it was a tremendous feeling to feel welcome and part of the "hometown” crowd when none of us actually live there. All of the folks we've met in the Bloomington area have been incredibly kind and friendly to us, and it's one of the things that keep us wanting to return for shows when we can.
What also made this concert special was the new material performed. There are 19 songs on the Wilderness Plots CD. Four songs each were written by Krista Detor, Tim Grimm, Carrie Newcomer, and Michael White, and 3 were written by Tom Roznowski. In the past, the live show has contained 20 songs, including one additional song written by Tom after the CD was completed. On this night, the show contained 24 songs, with each of the other four artists adding one new song inspired by the Wilderness Plots stories but not recorded on the Wilderness Plots CD. Lay Him Down, written by Krista, appears on her latest CD release Cover Their Eyes, and the arrangement of it performed during this show was the best one I’ve heard thus far. Rebecca Versailles, written by Tim, appears on his latest release called Holding Up The World, and it was a particularly unique addition to the Wilderness Plots show because it was inspired by a story that Krista also drew from for one of her songs, called More Than I Dare Say, and these two were performed back to back. I was told the new song Michael White wrote and performed is part of the new album he is currently creating, too. I think the song is called High In These Hills, but I'm not certain, and I don't yet know the title of the new album or when it will be released.
Hearing all of these new songs was incredible, but the one that seemed to garner the strongest audience reaction was the new offering written and performed by Carrie Newcomer. I don't know the title, and any description I could provide of this song would pale in comparison to actually hearing it in full, but the basic theme and refrain throughout is "Do no harm. Shed no blood. The only law here is love." The applause when on longer at the end of this song then for any of the other individual songs and was surpassed only by the standing ovation at the end of the show. At the end of the evening, I learned the song had only recently been written and that this had been its first public performance, making the impact it had on the audience and myself even more significant, and increasing my already high admiration of Carrie as a songwriter and performer. These additional songs were totally unexpected and a terrific surprise, and it sounds like they may be included in future performances of the show, as well.
It is unfortunate this show is not performed more frequently in more areas of the country. While this is completely understandable given its cast of six artists have families and other professional irons in the fire, and coordinating six schedules is a definite challenge, I wish more people would have the opportunity to see this show live, and I would particularly love to see it come to Michigan. Fortunately, both for those who have not seen the show live and those who have and want to hear more, the show is scheduled to be broadcast live on WFMT out of Chicago on Saturday, October 11th at 8:00pm. You can listen to the live broadcast online for free at www.midnightspecial.org after a quick registration process, but archives after the fact are only accessible to WFMT members at the $40 level and higher and are available for only one week after each show. I encourage everyone with computer and high speed Internet access at the time of the show to tune in and have a listen!
Our travels went pretty smoothly for this trip. It rained for about the first half of our journey on the way down and for the entire return trip home, but we were successfully able to pick Willa up at the airport on Saturday and drop her off on Sunday, and we encountered minimal construction and only a couple instances of particularly heavy traffic. We had another fabulous meal at Sara's Family Restaurant in Fort Wayne on the way down, found dinner before the concert at a restaurant Jenn and I love and hadn't visited in ages because the one nearest to us in Michigan closed, and enjoyed seeing some new places around Bloomington, as this was our first time attending a show at the Buskirk-Chumley theater. All in all, another trip well worth the effort!
Thanks for reading! Hope all are well.