I am really sorry you missed it. I attended last week’s “Music at the Meetinghouse,” part of the wonderful new “Ipswich, Down Town Tuesdays” series of free community events, the brainchild of Kerrie Bates, director of the Ipswich ReCreation and Culture Department.
Some 90 people jammed into the First Church Meetinghouse ¬— straining the limits of legal occupancy for the historic structure — for a great evening of music and poetry, with refreshments donated by local businesses. The event began with a very talented young singer-songwriter. A passionate poet then read a number of his pieces. Finally, the star of the evening took the stage.
Backed by a brilliant standing-bass player and an excellent drummer, he sang a number of his own songs, as well as a fine selection of songs written by others. He wasn’t able to recall the names of any of the other writers, but that’s OK. We writers are used to this.
Anyway, the featured performer was great. I could understand why he’s widely regarded as a New England treasure. I actually can’t remember his name at the moment, but I do remember he was born and raised in Ipswich. He has emerged as a super-talented singer-songwriter, with gigs all over the North Shore. I just can’t quite recall — do you know who I mean? His boyish good looks are balanced by gently graying hair, which he wears a little long and casual. Neville, maybe? No, that’s the guy who did that duet with Linda Ronstadt. This guy has a beautiful smile and a sparkling sense of humor, a warm way with an audience. I’m trying to think — the moment you say it, I’m going to kick myself for forgetting. His voice is supple and versatile — he handled a wide array of musical styles, from Nat King Cole jazz to rockabilly to soulful folk, all with ease — and he’s a truly dazzling guitarist. Darn, what is that sucker’s name? It’s remarkable that he isn’t doing music fulltime, but in real life (although I imagine most folks in Ipswich don’t know this), he labors as a gardener. Maybe you could support the North Shore music scene by hiring him to trim your shrubs or something. If only I could tell you whom to contact. I think one of his names starts with a vowel. Audie, maybe? Otto?
Now I feel badly. I didn’t mean anything by my comment about his not being able to remember the names of the other writers. It’s true, every time he tried to tell the audience the name of the person who wrote the song he was about to sing, he stumbled, fumbled, and turned to his band for help — and they didn’t remember either. Of course, I’ve been a writer my entire adult life, so I might have taken offense at this, except that after a lifetime of people remembering everything about a book or a movie or a song except the name of the person who wrote it, I’m more or less accustomed to this universal disrespect for the creative people who drive our entire culture. It’s a shrug of the shoulders for me. Honest.
So let me just say, this radiant talent — wait, I think I’ve got it: Orson. No. Owen. No. I’ll get it. Just give me a minute.