With Christine Lavin and Julie Gold
Had a full circle experience on Sunday, when I walked through the doors of the Unitarian Church at 21st and Chestnut in Philly to celebrate the 80th birthday and illustrious career of music legend Gene Shay. He had been the host of folk shows on various stations for the past 50 years and the emcee at the Philadelphia Folk Festival as well; known for his goofy/groaner jokes. It is his voice that was part of my Sunday nights for decades on WXPN. This gracefully aging hippie was excited to attend the tribute concert that featured so many talented artists who are legends in the music world themselves. I described it as splashing about in love soup. The show was sponsored by Sing Out Magazine- another staple in the community.
The lineup included:
Full Frontal Folk, John Flynn, Julie Gold, SONiA from Disappear Fear, Tom Rush, Kim & Reggie Harris, Silk City, with Tony Trischka, Janis Ian, David Bromberg, Christine Lavin and Don White, Tom Paxton, Jay Ansill, Saul Broudy, Wannamaker Lewis, Kenny Ulansey and LisaBeth Weber.
What made it all the more poignant was that on October 24, 1986, life as I knew it would change dramatically. I had gone to the Unitarian Church to hear Ram Dass speak on the topic of Seva-selfless service. During the intermission, a mutual friend named Ute Arnold introduced me to Michael Moser who I would marry the next year and with whom I would go on to publish Visions Magazine. During the ten year stretch from 1988-1998, I would have the joy of interviewing so many luminaries, including three who were there last night:
Julie Gold, Christine Lavin and Janis Ian. The interviews were done over the phone back then, so I had the pleasure of actually meeting all three of them at the concert.
Julie and Christine were part of the Super-group called The Four Bitchin’ Babes. Julie is best known for writing the classic -From A Distance that was covered by Bette Midler and Nanci Griffith. Christine offered two of my favorites songs from her repertoire as well. Sensitive New Age Guy and Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind. Janis Ian sang her classics Society’s Child and At Seventeen.
Had I not gone to the presentation nearly three decades ago, had I not met Michael, had we not published the magazine, I would have been just another audience member, enjoying the music and legacy that Gene and the musicians had created and the footprints they were leaving in the sands of time. I wonder sometimes if things happen at random, or if they are ‘beshert’, which is Hebrew for ‘meant to be’. Do people cross our paths by Divine Design, according to soul contracts that we co-write even before we take our birth?
After the concert that lasted well over 3 hours, surrounded by kindred spirits, I went backstage for the ‘after party’, engaging in conversation and sometimes just sitting or standing back and drinking in the ahhhh energy of people whose love of music and Gene, brought us all together.
With Gene Shay and LisaBeth Weber
A miracle of sorts occurred after the concert.
I had driven into the city with my friend LisaBeth from our suburban enclave of Bucks County. The roads were snowy and ice covered ….big surprise this winter, huh? I knew that my trusty Jeep would get us there and back safely, and still we had contingency plans to camp out somewhere in Philly, either with a friend of hers or at a local hotel if need be. As the evening wore on, we thought better of venturing out on the road. At that point, an angel named Mira Shapiro, who is part of LisaBeth’s and now my ‘family of choice,’ offered us the extra bed in the hotel room that she had already booked. Bonus was that it was around the corner, lovely and luxurious and had a restaurant where we could have a late night snack. Diving into a bowl of cauliflower soup ended my night well. We had such fun, sharing cosmic coincidence stories. It turns out that Mira and I have two, among may friends in common- Karyn Oliver whose wedding I officiated two and a half years ago and Melanie Schaffner who introduced me to Karyn.
I live my life in trust that all thing happen in, as my friends Cheryl Baldwin and Mary Ellen Finerty describe ‘Grace, Flow and Ease.’ I am ready for the next loop around the circle.