I think everyone must smile on their wedding day.
But Kim’s smile was beyond a frown turned upside down. Her whole body was smiling, from the moment we got there until the moment we left. It could have been the weather, it was the most beautiful day possible for an outdoor wedding. It was late summer in the Berkshires, and area I’ve become convinced that Mother Nature created just to give beauty a place to live. A few fluffy clouds drifted through the deep blue sky and the flowers which Tor and Kim spent months planting just for this day basked in the sunshine.
As the guests drifted in, and mingled through the grounds, I wandered around trying to capture the happiness all around. People laughed, talked about old times, and on the hill children twirled and danced with hula hoops to the music Mark Mercer was playing. Through it all, Kim floated through them in her simple white dress and her radiant smile. Tor shook hands, laughed and thanked everyone for coming, with a smile all his own.
The walked down the hill, hand in hand, connected and together and were joined as man and wife in front of family and friends. Afterward, in the greenhouse, everyone danced well into the night. But everywhere was this happiness and joy that could not be missed. Laughter and love was everywhere… and I tried to capture it.
In the end, it’s fitting it took place on a farm. The seed that was planted that day will grow for all time, and someday Tor and Kim will be on the pouch, in rocking chairs, old and gray. But they’ll still be together, and I know Tor will still have a guitar in his hand and a song on his lips and Kim will still be smiling with her whole being.
In “She’s Here”, they themselves say “It’s not everyday, that the best come to town, with those very special people hanging around.”
Max Creek, for me, is indeed, the best. A band that’s been playing together since 1971 and has a strong, dedicated following despite the lack of radio airplay, music videos or world tour. They play the emotion filled, exploratory music that I love, with roots in blues, rock and for lack of a better term “jam”. In all they years together they’ve never stepped foot on the stage with a setlist, only a general idea of where they were going.
I found them one afternoon when I received a collection of live Grateful Dead shows in the mail from someone I had traded with. I sent him more then he sent me, and as is traditionally done, he made it up with some “surprise” shows. He threw in Max Creek at the Northern Lights, 4/08/2000. I’ll be honest and admit that the disc sat there for a bit. I finally tossed it in. The show played in the background, and it was the last song, a cover of Dire Strait’s “The Bug” that grabbed my ear. I started back at the beginning and… well….
I traveled to 4 “Camp Creeks” in upstate New York, camping out, indulging in music, fun and life. (and a few other substances from time to time.) It was yearly fix, since I could hardly every make to to other Max Creek gigs. I followed them on-line though, downloading every show that was offered for free trade. I built my collection and tried to survive on that, but it was a poor substitute for the real thing.
There was no Camp Creek this year. Instead, the band would play an all-inclusive weekend at the Eastover Resort in Lenox, Mass. It would be three days of music, in a nice hotel with comfy beds and a shower. It would be paradise, but getting there was the only hurdle.
Kim is so wonderful in so many ways, but when put our names on the waiting list for a room, she outdid herself. When we got the call there was an opening, we were on our way.
Sure, I could cut and past the setlists for the three shows that Max Creek played. I would past the links to Carl’s Setlist page, or share the recordings at the archive, but nothing could come close to the sensation of being in that room those nights. The way the music weaved around all of us filling the corners with light and sound. From the moment they took the stage, the band stopped being 5 separate men and morphed into one being. They moved from song to song wordlessly lost in rhythms and grooves.
And it was good. It was beautiful. It was just what I needed to hear.
Great friends, a great girl, a great location and a band beyond description… a weekend in heaven.
Through it all, I shot. My lens caught every note Max Creek played, the music on the lawn from the Hot Acoustics, through Flipper Dave, right up to my pal Rev Tor.
More than a month has gone by since that weekend, and I can still hear Scott’s guitar when I close my eyes. At quiet times Marks keys or John Ryder’s bass thundering along with the power of Vasso & DeGuglielmo’s drums.
I need another fix… soon.
Today is August 9th.
Fourteen years ago Jerry Garcia died in his sleep, ending the life of the beast known as The Grateful Dead. Fourteen years ago today the endless tour which begin in 1967, and only briefly took a break in 1975, came to a screeching halt.
It’s a day that I, and legions of other Deadheads, will never forget. At his funeral, Robert Hunter gave the eulogy. In it he asked, “now that the singer is gone, where will we go for the sound?”
For fourteen years, I’ve searched, and found, some of the most incredible music my ears could comprehend. With the likes of Railroad Earth, Gov’t Mule, Blue Rodeo, moe, Phish, and more, I have listened, smiled and danced. Of course, I’ve spent many hours lost in the sounds of the New England powerhouses, Max Creek, and Rev Tor. My veins have been itching for another dose of Tor’s magic, so when I saw he was playing only a few hours away, I knew I had to make the trek.
We left NYC and drove through some of the most amazing country New York State has to offer. The road was long and winding, but it didn’t matter. We drove over mountains and farmland until we reached tiny Stephentown, New York.
The Rev Tor Band would be playing a Friday night slot at the “2009 Rock, Rattle, & Drum – American Indian Pow Wow & Spirit on the Mountain Music Festival”. Depth Quartet, made up of Scott Murawski and Greg Vasso of Max Creek would be opening. Knowing the creative spirit of all those involved, I knew there would be a stage full of musicians by the end of the evening, and I was proven correct. Scott sat in with Tor for almost the whole set, Greg played drums on one song, and then shared the drum kit for a drum solo with Tor’s drummer in a way that only pure musicians could even fathom. Kim laughed and stood on a chair to watch it. They wove through originals as well as some great covers, ending the night with a monster “Shakedown Street”, then encoring with Tor’s rocking cover of En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind”… trust me it works.
The next morning, we dragged our asses back to the site, sorry to see that our friends who met us at the fest had left, and hung around to watch some of the Native American ceremonies and dances at the Pow Wow.
As the participants danced, and displayed their beautiful native outfits, I began to notice how connected they were to the beating of the drums. The drums led them, almost as if they were entranced by the sound, and my mind wandered back to the darkness of Madison Square Garden, feeling the same way as I could feel the notes of Jerry’s guitar around me. These dances they performed under the hot sun were timeless, being passed down generation to generation. Through the ages, the elders would pass it along to the young, so in their culture, the singer was never gone, the song was never lost.
Now, I need to go find some more music to be lost in…