We almost didn't go to hear Andrew and Noah at Anderson Fair Thursday night.
We had had a bad afternoon dealing with an incompetent Post Office employee, who made us despair of ever getting Emma's passport.
Emma was so disconsolate when we got home that I suggested we watch just a little of Bright Star, the movie about the romance between poet John Keats and Fannie Brawn.
What a ludicrous idea! Once we started it, there was no turning it off. The film mesmerized us, right through to the last credit. It was difficult to move afterward. We wanted to stay in that dreamy world of poesy.
Emma even said, "Let's don't go to Anderson Fair."
I insisted, though, because backing out of going places at the last minute is one of my worst faults. But, oh, it was hard! We had to hustle to get the milking done so that we could make it downtown before 9:00, when the music would begin at Anderson Fair.
We were a few minutes late, so Andrew and Noah were already playing when we came in. We ordered a chicken quesadilla at the counter and then slipped into the darkened music hall--the combination of no light and an old uneven floor forcing us to feel our way to a table and chairs. Thankfully, the stage was lit.
By its light we saw dimly a man's outline pause at our table to deliver the chicken quesadilla. We soon discovered that it was loaded with "the works". Each shadowy forkful foretold a little adventure. "Ooooh. Yuck," Emma whispered after choking down a blob of sour cream. I inadvertently consumed a chunk of avocado, which I find disgusting. Overall, though, it tasted delicious, and the chicken especially was tender and flavorful.
The entertainment proved similar to the quesadilla. It was songwriter's night, so the van Norstrands shared the stage with an older, local duo, which for us was sour cream and avocadoes.
The van Norstrands, however, did not disappoint. Their music exudes freshness and energy, and their manners were almost courtly in their collaboration with the two other musicians. Andrew and Noah's songs seem grounded in folk tradition and do not shy away from expressions of love and lifelong commitment.
When Andrew introduced one of his songs as one that he wrote for his girlfriend, who has since become his wife, one of the older men said that you want your songs to be "effective, but not that effective". We shuddered.
Between sets we explored the building, a quirky, tumbledown old place. To the left of the counter, we found a strange room that had one wall lined with books. Emma giggled when she discovered a book on logic, shelved above a label that read, "MYSTERY". The bathroom was a rustic throne room, as the toilet sat upon a platform, a whole step up from the main floor. The tiny bar area boasted a painting of a bare-breasted lady that was mounted high up on the wall. The customary promotional photos of mostly unknown-to-us performers papered the walls elsewhere.
The customer service was really good; they treated us like family. I liked the fact that they don't take credit cards. They even had a wide selection of teas for Emma. She ordered a cup of red raspberry.
Emma drove us there and back and did fairly well. She told me on the last leg of the trip home that we shouldn't stay out late like this except on rare occasions. I felt kind of guilty. Then I remembered that this is the girl who was playing hide 'n' seek with her cow at 2 a.m. Monday morning, jumping up and roaring, "RAAAAAAH!" whenever Fiona found her, causing Fiona to jump and run, kicking her heels, at which point Emma would hide again, and the whole process would start over.
I ignored her.