17 November 2009

I Love Him and You Should Too

Seeing Bill Harley live is something every parent, child, music lover, story aficionado and, well, english-speaking human being should experience at least once in their life.  He is Bill Cosby and John Denver, all rolled up into one.

The Mrs. and I saw him perform an "adult show" inside a house of worship (that sentence never fails to make me chuckle) this past weekend.  After seeing Bill Harley twice stand in front of a floor full of 6-year olds, it was thrilling to watch him in his natural element - singing songs and telling stories to a group of moms and dads who were once school age kids themselves.  It's a demographic that allows Harley to pull from his entire body of work; funny kids stuff, social commentary, and emotional, more complex material.

Harley performed two sets, totaling close to 2 hours.  Not quite Springsteen, but the crowd could surely have handled 2 more.   He told several stories and played a handful of tunes off "First Bird Call", Harley's newest grown-up album.  Ahead of "Call", one of the sparkling new songs, Harley retold his Happy Pappy Day story originally published on his fantastic blog - Song, Story and Culture.  If you haven't read that blog post yet, go now - it's a riot.

What is most interesting to me, and my wife, is the effect his kids-leaving-home themed stories have on us.  We're forced to think about that eventual loss, and the empty nest that comes with it, through funny, yet extremely personal and touching tales of a man who has already walked down that road and said goodbye.  Both my wife and I were in tears, envisioning that cinematic moment in our minds. 

If Bill Harley comes anywhere near where you live (check here), I urge you to find a babysitter and get your butt out to see him.  It'll be an awesome date.  You'll thank me later.  Oh, and tell him Jeff sent you.

The venue for this show, the Turtle Dove Folk Club, holds it's events at the high ceiling-ed, simply elegant and surprisingly relaxed (considering you're sitting in pews) West Grove Friends Meetinghouse (in West Grove PA, which is near historic Kennett Square - mushroom country). Yes, this is a place of worship but if you've never stepped foot inside a Quaker meetinghouse you'd never really know it (well, those pews might give it away).  There's no altar or monolith cross to remind you of pain and suffering. From what I can tell, Quakers are a positive and generally accepting bunch. Their places of worship reflect this mellow attitude. The West Grove Meetinghouse proves a terrific place to see and hear live music, with superb acoustics and a warm, intimate feeling - even on a cold, dank Autumn evening.  We can't wait to go back, hopefully for another evening with the incomparable Bill Harley.

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