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September 2004

Clyde's Oktoberfest on a chilly Sunday afternoon, a cold wind blows through the open sides of the Reston Town Center Pavilion, freezing the bare knees of a waiting group of traditional Bavarian dancers. The courtyard is filled, loud with the din of diners, as waiters with walkie-talkies radio orders back to the grill area.
Easily 1000 people fill 2 acres of long tables, their attention divided between their plates and the Redskins game being shown on two projection TVs.

It's my second day as a biojukebox, taking requests, filling
the breaks and changeovers for five different Oom-pah bands,
and I've heard the Pennsylvania Polka now more times than Bill Murray did in Groundhog Day.

A woman walks up to me with inebriated deliberation, spilling beer on my guitar as she leans in to be heard, asks for any song from "The Sound of Music". I want to tell her I don't know any, but I'm wary of further conversation, as she still has more beer. I herd the two dozen children gathered around the dance stage and start them off, "Do, a deer...," and the kids sing along.
I finish my set and introduce the dancers.

Got back to DC last Saturday, running ahead of Ivan, in time to play the Takoma Park Folk Festival. Thursday, we represented David Eisner and the IMT at a showcase that included acts presented by The Kennedy Center, The Birchmere, Vic's Corner, Mofolk, and Uptown Concerts. Vic & Reba told us that they had wanted to present us, but found out that IMT was already doing so. I guess we're doing something well. The Clyde's gig came in unsolicited, I'd played
their Strawberry Festival in May and they called to ask me back for Oktoberfest.

As a performer, this is the best compliment I could wish for, the return engagement.

The dancers end their set just as the Redskins recover a fumble, and the crowd goes nuts, cheering and jumping out of their chairs. The troupe thinks the applause is for them and does an encore. When they finish, I take to the dance stage after them and strum random chords, singing a play by play of the football game, dodging small children while the new band sets up on stage behind me.

Friday I practiced with Chris Chandler for our gig on Oct 3, a Street Festival in Takoma Park.
He fits a poem into the spaces of "Background Scenery", another woven into and around
"Land of the Free". He is clear about how he hears it, certain in his direction, and I just go along for the ride. I am backup, my songs just frames for his art and I am honored to share them so.

The new band, The Continentals, is almost ready, so I call for requests on my last song, and the crowd picks "Country Roads". All those Pathfinder between sets pay off. "Almost heaven,..."
and hundreds of people are singing, and when the second verse begins, keyboards start in behind me, then drums, sax, and lead guitar. Then four amplified voices in harmony on the chorus. It is an Oktoberfest moment, one that can only be shared with 1000 people whose gathering purpose was to drink lots of beer. Women pour out of the crowd and dance around me, the band is laughing on stage behind me, we have become something new, we are one,
I have found that elusive connection.

Either that or the Redskins recovered another fumble.