I attended the first Thursday evening concert at Castle Hill in Ipswich this past Thursday, and it was a nightmare, I tell you, an absolute nightmare.
Everybody kept coming up to me and telling me I was wrong, and my wife was right.
Doesn’t this sound like a bad dream to you?
In the natural world, everything was great. This was the 2019 kickoff concert for the Trustees’ annual Crane Estate summer series, originally conceived 22 years ago by the remarkable Trina Schell. Trina has coordinated the concerts all these years, but this year, she’s handing off management of the concerts for the first time, and in spite of unexpectedly huge crowds, Thursday night went smoothly. No fisticuffs that I saw, no children lost without eventually being found, no staggering drunken speeches by partisan attendees mistaking Allée statues for political opponents. Just loads of old Journey hits and other music from that era.
The Great Escape, a Journey tribute band, was enormously entertaining. They had plenty of folks on their feet, dancing or (as in my case) attempting to dance. My wife has always been an awesome dancer, so if I get up on a dance floor, it’s mainly to watch her, and keep my eye on the other guys watching her.
Also, there was the usual array of yummy food and beverage options. I indulged in a massive carne burrito, which pleased me enormously, and made me enormous. I carried water in, in an environment-friendly reusable bottle, which had the additional advantage of enabling me to avoid the line for wine, which at times stretched to Rhode Island.
The evening might have been lower key. The weather was supposed to be off-and-on rainy. And not everyone is a Journey fan. You might expect the concert series to start small each summer, and build toward the ever-popular Beatles tribute band HELP! on August 22 and the wrap-up concert with the beloved Orville Giddings and his band on August 29. But the hill was crawling with people — from smiling seniors stepping gingerly to children racing and shrieking with joy. We got there by 7:30 for the 7 p.m. event and had to park in the overflow lot at Steep Hill. By the time we hauled ourselves and our camp chairs up the Allée to the “No drinking beyond this point” rope at the front of the lawn, we had to rest up before dancing.
Everyone seemed to be in a rollicking mood. It’s hard to be grumpy when a band is blasting “Any Way You Want It.” Even when I was being accosted, my assailants were usually bright-eyed and cheerful. It seemed every fourth or fifth person at the concert had to come stand over my camp chair — or stop me on my way to the burrito trailer — or grab me in the middle of the dance floor — and tell me how wrong I was, and how right my wife was. Everyone, it seemed, had seen my “Outsidah” column in the Chronicle & Transcriptthat morning, talking about the confusion at Lord’s Square when vehicles compete to pull out from Linebrook Road and Liberty Street at the same time. I wrote that my wife Kristina feels the person on the right (which is to say, on Liberty) has the right of way. I insisted that the Linebrook driver is already on Route 133 by the time he arrives at Liberty (though only a few feet away), so the guy on the major thoroughfare has the right of way. I had already been bombarded with “no” votes online (you can see them for yourself at Outsidah.com). But now, at the concert, it was the world’s opportunity to get in my face.
Nobody was buying my point of view, and everybody felt the need to tell me so. And it became clear, over the course of the evening, that this wasn’t just about traffic. This was about love. The over-arching message was not simply “Doug, you are a wrong-headed, insensitive driver, and possibly dangerous.” There was also a sub-current of “Doug, you married well, and you don’t deserve her.”
This part, I must admit, may be true. She could have married a smarter driver. And she absolutely could have married a better dancer.