Sunday, October 07, 2012

Roadie Report 61 - The Beautiful Fall of 2012 by Camilla McGuinn

September..always in our memory.

Leaving the rural countryside of Ohio after celebrating a dear friend’s wedding in the crisp autumn air, charged the excitement of our short September tour.
The lovely bride.

The joy of a wedding!

After a stop at the “Heart of Ohio” antique mall to add to my collections of Russell Wright dishes and Roger’s collection of transistor radios, we were headed for Chicago for a concert at one of our favorite venues, the lovely Beverly Center.
Our short tour consisted of five concerts in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Folks at the Beverly Center kept commenting that the next place we were going was a town in Wisconsin they have never been or even knew existed.

Wautoma, an Indian name, is located in the heart of Central Wisconsin, an hour’s drive from Madison. The “McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center” was made possible by the generosity of two Wautoma residents. Ina Taylor McComb left over one million dollars to the Wautoma Area School District for the construction of a performing arts center. Her generous gift, along with another donation from the Pearl Bruchs Estate, were combined to build the McComb/Bruchs PAC.

Ina McComb, an avid theater-goer, envisioned a performing arts center which would not only serve the City of Wautoma, but would also be a first class facility available for use by all those living in the Central Wisconsin area, with special encouragement to local area school groups. The day before the concert, a crowd of students filled the theater to hear Roger share how being prepared with his craft, took him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The night Roger performed, the center welcomed folks from the surrounding area and four different states. Over two thirds of the audience were new to the The McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center. But in the audience were five of the thirteen loyal readers of this blog, who encouraged me to write more. God Bless ‘em! The concert was sold out and the audience was an amazing singing group.

Rochester, Minnesota was our next stop, home of my second cousin Zach. It was fun to spend two days in one city. With days away from the concert in Ironwood Michigan, we moseyed our way through the back roads of the pristine Midwest countryside. As I was driving I saw a sign announcing a county fair. The billboard was an old one, but the memories the billboard evoked made me long for the State Fairs I used to go to in Raleigh, North Carolina in the early 60s.

The Mall of America was walking distance from our hotel. After an early meal at the Twin City Grill, Roger and I walked into the center of the mall and our eyes opened in wonder at the twirling carnival rides. The State Fair of my youth was right in front of me. We couldn’t resist. We bought wrist bands so we could ride every ride we wanted, as often as we wanted.

The crowds were pretty sparse but on the upside, there were no long waits to board the rides. As we got in line for the “Fairly Odd Coaster,” two young boys were standing in front of us. The youngest one turned to us and asked if we would ride with them. We were amazed and honored. Once the four of us got buckled into our seats I began asking all the questions I always have about people I meet. Tyler and Noah were from Fargo, North Dakota. They were six and seven years old. I smiled as I thought we’re almost the same age; Roger and I each just have a zero after the six and seven.

The ride was exhilarating! We all wanted to do it again. The four of us scrambled out of the ride, ran around to the entrance and back on board. The boys won the race. This time each of them boarded the car facing each other, leaving the seat next to them empty. We were delightfully humbled when we were told where to sit. After the ride, they introduced us to their father who had been patiently watching his children play with some rather odd looking older children. I asked if I could take their photo and post it on our BLOG. The father insisted we both get in the photo with the boys. When I read the business card he gave me, I was hoping we had passed scrutiny because he was a sheriff in Fargo. I went to sleep that night thanking God for one more chance to enjoy a carnival with childlike excitement and the wonder of Tyler and Noah.

Roger is very faithful about putting up a traditional song on the Folk Den on the first day of each month. Unfortunately, he had forgotten the adapter he needed to record on his studio-in-a-box, Pro-tools, on his computer. The Mall of America has everything even the microphones that connect directly into his computer. After buying a “Blue” USB microphone, he was ready to go with the October song. He chose a song about mining because our tour was taking us to the mining country of the “Upper Peninsula” or “UP” of Michigan. We used our next day off for recording and washing clothes in our hotel on the way to Ironwood, Michigan. Ah… the world of modern conveniences!

The town of Ironwood was originally an iron mining town settled in 1885. It is a small town with a heart for art. The Ironwood Theatre is supported by mostly volunteers. It was a volunteer who lobbied the Board of Directors to bring Roger to town. I think a reporter tells about the concert better than I can.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera to capture this beautiful auditorium.

Driving the 121 miles to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the clear Fall October sunlight was a treat and colorful. It was the day of our next show in Calumet.
The promoter knew we would need a meal at 2pm which included a protein and broccoli. He arranged for a table at Carmelitas. Even at 2pm on a Saturday, the restaurant was packed. We told the hostess the secret name and were immediately escorted to a quiet booth. The restaurant boasts of Southwestern cuisine - "Food With An Attitude!” I have a rule - if Chili Rellenos are on the menu, I must taste them. In the 70s I worked in Puerto Vallarta for a month. Maria, the cook, made Rellenos that have never been equaled…until Carmelitas! If it had not been the day of a concert - our menu is very strict on those days - I would have ordered everything Mexican on the menu. I think I will have to ask Andrea, Roger’s agent, to book us back there so we can have an extra day in Calumet, just so I can eat!
The Calumet Theatre is also a volunteer supported non-profit organization. It opened in 1900 because the community treasury had prospered with the help of the copper mining industry. Walking on a stage that has hosted Sarah Bernhardt, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Lon Chaney Sr. and scores of other artist who had desired to travel many miles to grace a stage, is always an honor for Roger.
The Calumet Theatre

I always like to research a town before we go to it. I was a little concerned because the 2010 census recorded the population of Calumet as 798. The theater holds over 700 people. I emailed my contact there and asked if all the babies were coming too. He replied that there were people in the woods. Whew…that set me at ease.

The people in “the woods’” came from all around. In fact, as we were loading out of the hotel the day after the concert, we enjoyed some wonderful conversations with those “wood people’” who came to town just to see Roger’s concert.

Sundays are always great days to head home after some wonderful theater experiences. We decided to take the long way home through the entire state of Michigan. The trees in upper area of Michigan were turning to an amazing palette of colors. Driving by Lake Superior was a first for me. The lake is so immense, it’s hard to grasp that it is really just a lake. I had to put my feet in it.
Lake Superior..where I put my toes!

The next story will be backwards. I’m going to tell you how we found “Creeque Alley last December in St. Thomas on an cruise of the Caribbean. Thank you for your patience.

McGuinn and McGuire still getting higher!