Sunday, October 9, 2016

Aoife O'Donovan Fiddle Camp

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Aoife O'Donovan Fiddle Camp


Welcome to the 2016 event of the Minnesota music season;
El Rancho Manana was booked, but not Duluth. The reason
for all the excitement, not seen before here or since is,
Annual Aoife O'Donovan Fiddle Camp is about to commence.


Friday night was set aside for a staged contest for locals,
A talent contest of sorts, to showcase pickers with vocals.
Several bands shone like new money, but still did not win.
The St. Louis County crowd stuffed the ballots once again.


Bertram Haversham and the Bayfront Ramblers took the vote;
with no consolation for second place, that's all she wrote.
For their efforts, the boys will take the stage, authorized
to perform a tune alongside Aoife. Won't she be surprised?


She arrived Friday night, no one knew she was in proximity,
their rented tour bus affording her a measure of anonymity.
Her entourage, Steve, Anthony, and Carl, driver of the bus,
step out, wearing tee shirts proclaiming, "She's With Us."


Saturday morning workshops start promptly at nine, or ten.
Anthony's tutorial on playing mandola is the first to begin.
At another tent, Steve instructs students on Celtic Drums,
Aoife nods in approval, silently rendering Gaelic hums...


At high noon, she takes the stage, fielding random queries.
No question is repeated, until well into the third series,
She explains, moonshine does not come from a crooked still.
Aoife fills in anecdotes of her ride on the music treadmill.


This is the first festival season that she has done solos,
so cannot defer quiz models designed for Thile or Jarosz,
but she is a master of spinning toward her own expertise.
When it comes to song suggestions, "Try a few of these..."


So as to not interrupt, notes are placed at edge of stage.
"Why don't you play a Martin? When did you quit The Rage?"
"Do you know Rabbit in a Log?" (Seems someone is dyslexic.)
"How do you play your guitar so clean without using a pick?"


The game of twenty-plus questions is scattered yet seamless;
most she knows the answers, the rest she hazards a guess.
Shy and unassuming, this girl to the patrons, comes alive,
closing, to their mutual chagrin, "See you back at five!"


After the session, the group leisurely strolls the grounds,
Stopping along the way to sample foods, on their rounds.
The line was long at the Luke's Lutefisk on a Stick stand.
Too bad they ran out of lemonade. This was not well planned.


Five o'clock, the air is filled with an eerie mournful sound
of lawn chairs taking weight, those not sitting on the ground.
Bertram is introduced to Aoife, they step to a microphone;
as soon as his banjo rings, she wishes she was onstage alone.


It seems, "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" was the only song both knew.
Fare you well, Uncle Bert, see you never, when this is through.
As bad as he sang, even to point of misinterpreting a verse,
The Bayfront Ramblers, by any comparison, were even worse.


As the contest winners exited to applause, did a sound linger?
Aoife turned to see Bertram, tuning his banjo, near the singer.
"What key is your next one, little lady?" his question her way.
"If you don't leave, I will kick your shins. You cannot stay."


Ever the consummate professional, she regained her composure,
and navigated through her set. It was truly a magical hour;
her compositions, Irish tunes, sampling Joni and Emmylou,
with an encore sing along of "Oh Mama" and she was through.


At dusk we find Aoife and merry band, walking along the groves,
as parking lot pickers, strength in numbers, gather in droves.
Surrounded by amateur aficionados here in the Land of Prince,
there was one familiar out of tune banjo. That made her wince.


She was approached by a man with a camera, about next year.
Dave, along with committee members, Lia and Deanna, made clear,
come next season, the festival would have a new theme in play.
When revealed, polka was in the offing, Aoife turned away.


She found herself eye to eye with a stranger. In his zeal,
he sounded the news, "She is here. Aoife O'Donovan is here."
As her band mates and bus driver watched in mock disbelief,
Aoife turned and scribbled her name, then gave him relief.


"Yes, I met her, and asked for an autograph. She gave me two.
It is only right that I keep one, and give the other to you."
The mentally challenged fellow meant no harm, and as such,
prized possession in his hand warranted, "Thank you so much!"


That night, she mused, there is a song here, to be found,
and write she did, on the way to Boston, in that Greyhound.
She envisioned Mystic River, fourteen hundred miles to arrive,
thinking, "Hope we don't get lowed bridged on Storrow Drive."


A wake up call from the desk, all is not as it might seem.
Here in Hollywood, California, Aoife awoke from her dream.
At his final Prairie Home Companion, Garrison's reprieve,
She says to Keillor, "I've a story, even you won't believe."


Michael Todd (2016)


Disclaimer: Aoife O'Donovan is a favorite singer of mine. I saw a video of her, and in it, Sarah Jarosz mentioned the song she was about to perform was one she learned from Aoife, early in her career, at a workshop. Aoife responded with something along the lines of "Y'all come to fiddle camp." Well, she probably did not say "Y'all" but you know I tend to embellish. Anyway, that is where I got the idea for this poem. As for the rest, it just all fell into place. 

Aoife was onstage with Garrison Keillor, for his final Prairie Home Companion appearance, in July. That part is real. Also real, is her website, which can be found here...

http://www.aoifeodonovan.com/

68 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you very much, Barbi-Kay.

      And, of course... Nice FRISTING!!!

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  2. Ha! Complete with all corners of the story, from Minnesota to Boston. ;)~

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    1. Thanks, Heather... I was finally able to work Mystic River into a poem, and Storrow Drive, too... If anyone is familiar with the geography, and Aoife, it is you.

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  3. Reading a story filled with the mystery , love reading about song hidden within a song , Michael you imagination is refreshing 🌹

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    1. Thank you, Cherry Rose. You are far too kind. :)

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  4. A friend of mine saw Sarah Jarosz here in Atlanta last week. Excellent show was what I had heard. And she does say "Y'all". Texan, after all.

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    1. Sarah does talk a lot more like us that Aoife might. I have not seen her perform in concert yet. Same with Aoife, but I am working on that. Wish me luck.

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  5. Love it. You always have my senses awakened by your poetry. Well done.

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    1. Thanks so much, Reba. Glad you enjoyed this.

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  6. Very cool. This was quite enjoyable in many ways.

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    1. Thank you, Sallon. This brought back memories, back when I used to travel the festival circuit. Glad you liked it. :)

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  7. love love.love....hearing your heart song

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    1. Brenda, I promise, I put a lot of heart into this one.
      Thanks from coming by. :)

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  8. Outstanding Michael! A master of prose and rhyming. Never let your passions and adventures wane.

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    1. I promise, I will not, Andrew... If I keep an open mind and an open heart, there will always be inspiration on the horizon. And, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, my Muse will never abandon me.

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  9. The storyteller strikes back.

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    1. Thanks bunches, Alba Leigh... The story told itself. I just did my best to not impede. Happiness is all about.

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  10. I loved this soooo much scrumplet :) But OMG Luke's Lutefisk on a Stick? Ewwwwwww

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    1. But, Lia... I thought all the food vendors served their wares "on a stick" in Minnesota.

      * research fail *

      Hahaha

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  11. You epic poems are so, well, epic - and quite visual too. Granted, I did not know any of the songstress here, but it still made for quite an entertaining read :)

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    1. Thank you, Dahlia. I keep my Pandora set on my Aoife O'Donovan station. It is the best. So happy you enjoyed this piece. Thanks for reading. :)

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  12. This poem is the epitome of all that is Michael, quality, grace, charm and eloquence. One need not be acquainted with the subject matter to enjoy what is portrayed within the visuals of your words.

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    1. Thanks, Dave. Your overview is most generous, and appreciated, Sir.

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  13. A polka never disappoints, Sir Myke, but if I have to choose then of course I prefer Rabbit In a Log... *twitches nose*

    And to quote Frank Zappa: "Home is where the heart is - on the bus!"

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    1. Granted, bluegrass music is not prevalent in Utrecht, but "Rabbit In a Log" is universal, Sir Ruggi.

      "There's a rabbit in a log and I ain't got no dog,
      How will I get him? I know...

      I'll get me a brier and twist in his hair, and that will get him, I know."

      See? Boonies are everywhere! LOL

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  14. You really are the king of story poems--this was delightful Myke !!!

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    1. Thank you so very much, Doris. Always a treat when you come spend time with me.

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  15. Love how you were inspired to create such an intriguing story. Hoping it won't take you as long to post your next piece. Thank you for remembering to tag me!

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    1. This is as inspired as I will ever be, Ellie. I promise to not stay away so long as I can come up with another original story to put into to rhyme form.

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  16. This is so cool! I can picture it so clearly...especially having been to recent fairs with performers with varying degrees of proficiency. Been listening to old Prairie Home Companions on Maine Public Radio lately, too, though I can't recall hearing of Aiofe before. One correction...know to no, 18th stanza third line. Nice work, Myke.

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    1. Prairie Home Companion has been a part of my Saturdays for decades. I sure am going to miss Garrison.

      I am not sure I can edit this without scrambling it. I am afraid to mess with it... That was a pretty bad typo, though... yipes!

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  17. Knowing Aoife O'Donovan is one of your favorite singers, I read this as one of your experiences with her. Wow, you are quite the storyteller. Love this, Myke. :)

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    1. She is definitely that. I listen to he daily. This coming week, I am going to go buy her latest CD.

      To date, I have know real first hand experiences, but one can hope. :)

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  18. OMG...I LOVE THIS! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GRABBING MY ATTENTION...THE ONES THAT "FALL INTO PLACE" ARE ALWAYS THE BEST! <3 <3 <3

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    1. Things did all settle in nicely, when it was all said and done, Gail, which is nice.

      Thanks for visiting! :)

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  19. Another masterpiece! I'm enthralled by this woman. I shall go right away to investigate. Thank you Mike. Excellent... Most excellent.....

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    1. Lyne, your time devoted to her will be well spent. I can promise you that. Thank you for spending time with us today.

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  20. Replies
    1. I am glad you enjoyed, Katherine. Thanks!

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  21. Story telling at its best! I would love to hear the song she wrote! You are always clever with your words and the way you let the characters come to life! Well done Michael!

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    1. Thank you, Briana. She has written many great songs. Not only is she a great singer, she is a prolific songwriter.

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  22. Hey Myke! That was one wild ride of a poem. I really enjoyed the story line as I've been to numerous events where musicians get to pickin' and singin'. Your words took me right back to that wonderful, youthful, exciting place in time. As always, I appreciated your sense of humor and sensitivity to pathos. Your female character Aoife O'Donovan reminds me of so many country music queens. It's not always glamorous work. These ladies frequently have to play with some real thudders during their road tours. Fresh, fun, clever and entertaining, I could read this again and again. I was pleased to note the cool references to the Boston area and, am I right? even Emmylou Harris was mentioned early on. Love her work; love yours too. Affectionately, Eliza Anne Jones

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    1. Thanks, Eliza Anne... Good catch on Emmylou Harris... Aoife performs her own songs, but sometimes will sing "Boulder to Birmingham" which was written by Emmylou, as well as Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio."

      Glad this took you back to a good place. :)

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    2. So am I! Eliza Anne

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  23. A good one Michael! The musician and poet marry in this fine poem. Masterfully done, my friend.

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    1. Debra, you see the world through the finest prism. I love it. Thanks!

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  24. Though I am not familiar with the singer, I still enjoyed this piece. Your story telling ways are one-of-a-kind. :)

    Irene

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    1. Thank you, Irene. You always leave me smiling. :)

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  25. And a great idea it was! Very fun!

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    1. Thanks so much, Joleene. Hope you have an exceptional Halloween month, and all your vampires behave.

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  26. My grandfather would have called this one a ring tapper :)

    Nice one, Sir * tips hat *

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    1. The elders appreciate a good story, Stephen Lee.
      Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your train ride, Sir.

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  27. Sounds like a fun experience for all. Well, except for the Lutefisk on a stick. Yuck! Lemonade would have helped, for sure. ☺ I love how you weave real people and events into this epic. Another great one, Myke!

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    1. I don't know. Lemon renderings and raw fish might be combustible combined, Debbie. I made sure, all the real people had a really good time... Thanks for visiting. :)

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  28. There's a Cambridge, MN. And I would bet there is a detour sign there. Lovely singer, and the poem and me smiling. Awesome. -Dave Raider

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    1. Dave, would you believe, Aoife has a track called...

      "Detour Sign"

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivfTPM1TCog

      Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for playing such an important cameo in the story, and good luck with that polka festival.

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  29. I believe this is my favorite Myke storytelling. It flowed so well. I felt like I was there and having a high time even when Uncle Bert wasnt playing at his best it was still a fun experience. I would like to visit the land of Prince. Many of my friends have made the trek there these last few months. I am definitely going to look up Aoife on Pandora. Thank you so much for inviting me over to read this enjoyable tale.

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    1. Laura, your generous and candid observations make me really happy I was able to write this. Thank you, infinitely.

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  30. Dear Michael,

    As always your words spring to life and thus captures my attention to read line after line--not sifting into boredom in this poem. I'm not familiar with the singer, but your story is still intriguing.

    Good to see your poetry back on the stage, my friend. Your fan always is glad to read more.

    Blessings,
    Karen

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    1. Thank you kindly, Karen. It does my heart good when the boss is pleased. Thanks so much for coming by.

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  31. Fabulous storytelling, as usual! I could almost hear the music. I will have to look up Aolfie, as I'm not familiar with her music. Wonderful, my friend! :)

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    1. Thank you, Colleen. Listen to her for an hour, and you will be hooked for life. And, like you, she plays guitar.

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  32. Splendid Michael! You have such an engaging way with your words!

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    1. Thank you, Brother Don.
      I hope you had a magnificent Thanksgiving Day.

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  33. Michael, WOW, what an amazing way to compose a post with poetic flare to boost your work! Gr8 job, my friend!

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    1. Thank you very much, Cathy, for your kind and generous commentary. I truly appreciate that.

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