The opinions, remembrances, reflections, and wisdom of the mother of five homeschooled children as the last one leaves the nest and the ranks of the grandchildren begin to grow.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
THE BABY BOOM ON LINCOLN AVENUE
There appears to be a baby boom on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. I haven’t been there for a couple of years, but people have been busy while I was away. Every year the Old Town School of Folk Music sponsors a Folk and Roots Festival the second weekend of July which includes several fiddle contests. We have participated in these contests on some level for the last six years at least. For some reason we could not participate last year and nearly forgot to sign up this year. Contests were an important part of the musical development of my kids for the last 15 years, but once they go off to college, bagpipe or fiddle contests are not high on the list of priorities.
We happily made the annoying trek up north in rush hour traffic, parked at the Old Town School and made our way over to Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square. As is usually the case with these gatherings of traditional musicians, it turns into Old Home Week. More than a contest, it is an opportunity to reconnect with fellow musicians from past contests and/or festivals. Tonight was no different. Maggie, Kristen, Jeanne (Kristen’s mom) and I were happy to see our friends the Baimans. Rachel Baiman has been competing in the same contests as Mags and Kris for about 10 yrs. It was a regular circuit of bluegrass competitions that included the Illinois State Fiddle Championship, the winner of which was either, a Bern, Danaher, or Baiman fiddler. Katie Bern was the state champion in 2003 & 2004. Maggie was state champion in 2005 & 2006 and was thwarted in her 2007 attempt at a threepeat by Rachel Baiman. I thought maybe they would face off again in 2008, but Maggie was preparing for the competition in Ireland and Rachel was preparing for her freshman year at Vanderbilt University, so the rivalry ended there. Until tonight, when Rachel’s band of Old Timey musicians triumphed over Maggie and Kristen’s smaller, less vocal band of Irish musicians. Out of 16 bands (2 to 5 musicians), Maggie, Kristen and guitarist Andrew Serb finished 3rd, and Rachel Baiman’s group including another female fiddler, an upright bass player, and a guitarist finished 1st. I couldn’t argue with the results. Rachel’s band was awesome! They not only displayed some great fiddle work, they sang too! I loved it. In between these two groups was a trio of young men who were competent musicians with some interesting instruments and good looks. Very charming these guys were. Kind of like the Jonas brothers with fiddles and a wash tub.
Back to the baby boom. There were toddlers and babies everywhere. The DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) have been busy over the last two years and are no longer DINKS. They are now parents of barely spaced children. The best thing about this contest is its location. Unless is rains, it is held outside in Giddings Plaza where the whole neighborhood comes out with blankets and lawn chairs to watch the show. The kids can run freely in the plaza and make noise or play in the dirt or the fountain and no one cares. I love this atmosphere. It’s the best way to evangelize future musicians. I was encouraged by how many little disciples were skipping around the musicians and I am very grateful for the efforts of Paul Tyler, his group The Fiddle Club of the World, and the folks at the Old Town School of Folk Music for their devotion to preserving traditional American and ethnic music. It’s a rewarding job and someone has to do it.