Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Of Mud, Cherries, and Lavender Lemonade

The third weekend of May was one the entire band had been looking forward to. With Mary Lou out of town recently and Kathy in her play, it had been a long time since we could exploit all the voices available to us. And here we were -- all four of us -- on the road to the Hill Country to play at Becker Vineyards for BOTH Saturday and Sunday. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, when we left San Antonio on Saturday, May was already half gone and no measurable rain had fallen in our area. We were already under severe drought restrictions and the temperatures were at July/August levels. So when we set off under overcast skies and somewhat cool [73 degrees] temperatures, at 0930, we had hopes for a cooler and less strenuous day. Ha!

We were on IH10 approaching Comfort when the skies opened up. The parched landscape must have thought it was dreaming as wave after wave of rain fell out of blackened skies. We were following Steve and Kathy, and we really wanted to exit the freeway when they did, but the car preferred to go straight, it seemed. Hydroplaning along on a Saturday morning is not what I wanted to do, especially with a back seat and trunk full of musical equipment. After a second or two, one of our wheels found the road surface and we were able to make the exit -- a special shout out to Subaru's all-wheel drive.

When we got to the vineyard, there was already a huge crowd. It was a well advertised weekend, Becker's annual Lavender Festival, and the grounds were full of vendors and the wine was already flowing by the time we got there. Even after crawling along at 45 mph for the better part of an hour, we were still early. We noticed immediately that our previous performance space was claimed, so we drove around back to park our cars and find out where we were to set up. Steve and I dropped off the ladies to get more information, and pressed on to pull up in the loading spaces in the rear. There was a tractor blocking our way, so Steve made a turn into the vendor parking lot and immediately sank into the mud. It seems that the sandy soil that is so perfect for growing quality grapes turns to impassible mud under the slightest provocation.

And so it was that 3 50-somethings and one 60-something, emptied two cars of a ton of musical equipment in a driving rain while walking through ankle-deep mud. After a few failed attempts to get Steve's Mazda unstuck, we set off to find our performance space. Nichole had the perfect place in mind, but it was soaking and, after some improvisation, we set up in the tasting room -- the worst possible place for an amplified band. We persevered, though, and we seemed to please the patrons who most definitely did not want to go outside and sample the weather. Once we were finished, it was time to stow our gear in the cask room, have a look at Steve's now rescued car, and head back to San Antonio for the evening.

Kathy had a performance that night at Harlequin Dinner Theater in Angel Street, and the rest of the band were in the audience, along with Tim and Bob National Rich. Mary Lou said that the play was the best she had ever seen at that venue. Considering she watched me perform in a half dozen plays there and performed in a few there herself, this was quite a compliment. Kathy's performance was sublime.

After a night's rest, back we went for the second day at Becker Vineyards. As eventful as Saturday's performance was, that's just how eventful Sunday's was -- but this time for very good reasons. It was cloudy and cool -- the ladies borrowed jackets from a nearby vendor -- but there was no rain. For this reason, the customers were out on the grounds and so were we. After a nourishing lunch that included some amazingly tasty cherries Kathy picked up for the trip, we began our two-hour set. We made sure it was as chock-full of 4-parters as possible. And we sounded GOOD. Of special note is Mary Lou, who smiled and ripped into "Midnight Blue" with gusto, even though I played it in the wrong key!

We got lots of compliments, sold a couple of CDs and were thrilled to be visited by Tim and Bob Nationals Vicki, Linda, and Loyce. Vicki really enjoyed our music. It was a thrill to watch her sing along and dance in her own special style.

After breaking down and loading up our cars, we took the time to visit some of the vendors. Being as it was a lavender festival, the plant was infused in almost everything on offer. We sampled some lavender vanilla ice cream, lavender peach tea, and even lavender sangria. My favorite was the lavender lemonade. Tasty.

It had certainly been a tale of two days, but we left Becker with good feelings for the wonderful location, the friendly people, and the excellent wine. We hope to play there again soon.

We're back in San Antonio for the next several weekends; You'll find a list of our upcoming gigs HERE . And, while you're perusing our web site, stop HERE and tell us what you think!

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