Dar-ry Dar-ry night or the healing power of music

With my neck sprain still on the mend, I figured I had a 50/50 shot of the chiropractor Monday morning making it better or worse, and I gambled wrong. I was feeling pretty nauseous most of the day, but we had VIP tickets to see Girlyman and Dar Williams at the Birchmere, and I didn’t want to miss it. Jill drove, and we got there (even with the messy traffic) in plenty of time. On her tour, Dar’s been doing meet and greets with local charities at each stop. When we saw them at the 9:30 they were doing one, but after the show, and since we left early to go see “MirrorMask”, it didn’t work out. I wanted to do it, though, so we did. The charity this time was the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, which takes at-risk kids and through boat building teaches them carpentry, and also offers tutoring to help them get GEDs. The nice thing was they had reserved seats (the people in the front tables had been waiting since 2:30), so we were able to get there later and still have good seats. Food and drinks were included, and we chatted with some of the folks who work at the foundation (although I don’t know if we could swing helping out there – it took us nearly an hour and a half just to get to Alexandria). We split the chicken caesar salad and a cheesburger.

The show was amazing. Girlyman and Dar were our two big discoveries at Falcon Ridge 2003, and we’ve only grown more fond of them over time. Girlyman had a nice set and I was particularly happy to hear “Amaze Me” (I’ve seen both Dar and Girlyman 9 times, and this is one of my favorite Girly-songs and only the second time they’ve played it). I’ve got to admit I’d prefer to hear originals over the opening and closing covers of “Born At The Right Time” and “Son Of A Preacher Man”, but the audience very much got into it, and I am a believer in having the opening band do at least one cover so they do at least one song you’re familiar with. And “Son Of A Preacher Man” was more of a party anthem than usual with Dar and some of her band joining in.

It was Dar the majority of the crowd was there for, and she was fantastic. Some of the volunteers for the foundation weren’t familiar with Dar, so we were telling them she’s a folksinger. Which she is, but we were forgetting she had the band with her, and the additional textures they bring out in her music brings to mind why I think eddie from ohio is a better band since Robbie started playing electric guitar. Ben Butler is a great guitartist, and let us know it from right when the band came in during “Comfortably Numb”, doing a great David Gilmour impersonation. Julie Wolf was essential on keyboards and backing vocals. Even when the rest of the band left, she laid down a rich counterpoint to Dar with her guitar. And Dar was her usual funny, talkative, bubbly self. I know I’ve heard some of the introductions to these songs before, but she always has a way to make it feel fresh. Bringing Girlyman back out to sing backup on four songs was great as well, added to Ben and Julie it felt like a choir sometimes, especially on “Iowa”.

Afterwards they had wine and coffee for the meet and greet – no water, and Jill’s said of the Birchmere’s coffee “it tastes like it was filtered through a washrag”. But meeting Dar was fun, and we got our picture taken with her. It was my first time meeting her (Jill got a chance at this year’s Falcon Ridge), and she was just as nice to talk to in person as she seems on stage – very genuine. It was only on the way home I realized I hadn’t felt nauseous since we’d arrived, and I’m feeling better today – music might be better than laughter to heal.