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Thursday, Sept. 16, 2004 01:18 pm

Grace about town 9-16-04

Things will look up

When I was a kid, I suddenly realized that every other kid listened to music -- everybody had a favorite song, a favorite group he or she listened to. My head was always buried in books, and I'd tuned the world out.

But in my quest to figure out how to fit in with other kids, I decided one afternoon that I, too, would have a favorite song. This strategy didn't work as far as the fitting in went, but it was entertaining to actually pay attention to music, finally. I remember standing in my bedroom one afternoon, tuning in a radio station. The first song I heard was "The Things We Do for Love," by the group 10cc. It starts off, "Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river/Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea/You lay your bets and then you pay the price/The things we do for love, the things we do for love . . ."

I liked the song and resolved to memorize the lyrics and embrace it as my favorite. I just looked the lyrics up online and was pleased to see I'd remembered them after all these years. I hear the song on the radio now and again, and it always makes me smile.

However, throughout my life I've kept forgetting about listening to music. Various men I've dated have introduced me to different artists -- I never listened to Bob Dylan until I moved to LA, and then I couldn't get enough of him. A long time ago, a boyfriend played me some Warren Zevon, and I instantly fell in love (with Warren, may he rest in peace). I'd never actually listened to any U2 until a boyfriend took me to one of their concerts, and I was amazed and delighted.

So it's not that I haven't cared about music but that I haven't paid enough attention. If I start listening to a CD when driving down the street, I soon start thinking about other things, and eventually realize I have no idea what was playing.

I've started making a more conscious effort to listen. And the thing about music is, it can do so many powerful things to you. It can uplift you, it can make you cry, it can make your heart feel so good. I realize you've all probably known about this forever, but it's good to be reminded now and then.

The past week, I had the opportunity to attend three completely different concerts, and each one gave me something. First I saw Lyle Lovett, in Denver, at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre (more about Denver next time). I adore Lyle Lovett; he's an amazing performer, and his band is incredible. He talked a little in between songs and seems like the most genuine, down-to-earth guy ever. Julia Roberts must have been a fool to divorce him. His lyrics are poignant and funny, and I couldn't get enough.

Midweek, I saw Cher. I love Cher. I love her attitude, I love her songs, and I aspire to wear outfits like that someday. For pure fun and spectacle, you can't beat Cher.

Finally, Friday night I went to my friends Ann Bova and Joe Bohlen's house, to see a Cabin Concert. Ann and Joe have amazing bluegrass and acoustic concerts right in their own home outside Pleasant Plains. It's worth the price of admission just to see this gorgeous, gigantic log cabin they live in. Ann is a musician herself, and she's the kind of open, infectiously positive person who draws people to her. Wil Maring and Shady Mix, a bluegrass group, performed. Wil wrote a lot of the music, and her voice is lilting and utterly enchanting. Mark Stoffel played mandolin and fiddle; he's German, and he told funny snippets of stories between songs. Robert Bowlin was on lead acoustic guitar and fiddle, and Geoff Maring, Wil's brother, played bass.

I haven't heard much bluegrass, but now I'm a convert. Shady Mix's music is gentle and sweet and expertly performed. I've never been a big fan of protracted instrument solos, but they've changed my mind about that, too. Every solo was lively and powerful, and all of the musicians were obviously having a great time performing.

I bought one of the group's CDs and am excited about my ever-expanding musical world. The next Cabin Concerts are Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29 and 30. This time Gerry O'Beirne, billed asa self-taught master of the six- and 12-string guitars, will perform. He's from County Clare in Ireland. He'll be at Ann and Joe's because Ann loves his music -- she called Gerry and asked him to play there.

I can't wait to hear this next concert, and I love Ann's attitude: If you want to hear the music, make it happen. Words to live by.

For more on the Cabin Concerts, visit www.thecabinconcerts.com.


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