Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spring & Festivals Return to St. Paul

After many ridiculously late snow and ice storms that I find it painful to talk about, spring seems to have returned to Minnesota, at least for a little while. Right now I'm writing from the J & S Bean Factory on Hamline Avenue in St. Paul, where my banjo playing alter ego just played a set for a nice crowd of folks from the Midway neighborhood and beyond. And now I'm listening to the fabulous Eliza Blue play as part of the Hamline Avenue Folk Festival. Just back from a crazy cross-country tour with local Twin Citizens Loudray and "Sneaky" Pete Bauer, Eliza has a strong voice and some killer instrumental skills as a guitarist, fiddler and yes, banjo player. As I'm writing this, she is singing one of my new favorite songs "Sword and Shield." Earlier this afternoon I hosted a songwriting forum as part of this festival, and I talked with Eliza about this tune, and she said she wrote it as an anthem to herself--a sort of self-help therapy. I'll tell you that this song is therapy for all of us--an amazingly soulful song with serious clawhammer banjo drive. Check out her CD Screen Doors and Back Doors, and you'll be treated to a nice rootsy collection of tunes. See her live, though, and you'll fall in love.

Behind the shop where I'm writing, there is another stage of great locals, hootin' and hollerin' and eating pulled pork sandwiches. The sun is out, making us believe that spring might actually be here to stay. We're all crossing our fingers...

3 comments:

Toby said...

Hey Ellen!
It was awesome meeting you today! As promised, I linked up with y'all at lunchofchampions.com!

See ya 'round!

Toby

chimneyswift said...

Madness, it was madness. A totally perfect St. Paul kind of quietly huge.

You could hardly tell from the street, and the names on the playbill wouldn't attract notice beyond the initiates, but the music...

Two stages, from mid-day on? And not a week link on the bill.

Cheers, and well met, MoJo.

Jess said...

Dude, why do you live in Minnesota? You could be here in Portland with me planting flowers with me in my yard and getting some sun on your arms.