Pilgrimages to Abundance
I spent a portion of this week in Austin, Texas. I love North Carolina, where I live, and I love North Carolina barbecue, but I am somewhat orthodox (or heterodox) in that I also love Texas barbecue. This was my third trip to County Line by the Lake. It is an inconspicuous rectangular building, and we were greeted and taken to our table (there were six of us). We chose the $19.95 special, which is an all-you-can-eat selection of three meats, accompanied by three vegetables. We chose brisket, chicken and sausage. It was sublime, an experience of abundance.
I am headed to Wilkes County, North Carolina tomorrow, which is 90 minutes to the north of my home. It is my annual pilgrimage to Merlefest. I can usually only squeeze in a day, but that is more than enough—like a huge serving of food at County Line. There is more music, on a given day, than I can take in, and tomorrow holds great promise: Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush and Tift Merritt.
I first saw Emmylou Harris in 1980, at the Riverfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky. My future wife and I were dating and we sat and listened to much of the music that had appeared on Luxury Liner. Years later, we saw Emmlou again, this time in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Carolina Theater. She was accompanied by Buddy and Julie Miller (who also opened for her), on the Wrecking Ball tour. I remember a couple of folk purists leaving the concert, but I thought it was incredibly bold and well -executed. We saw them again, only a few years ago, in a somewhat odd venue–Carowinds—this time as the Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue (with Patty Griffin and Gillian Welch/David Rawlings). The “aha” moment that night was their version of The Band’s “The Weight”.
What will Emmlou’s music be like tomorrow night? Who knows, but I realize it has been a constant in my life for almost thirty years. I have also enjoyed Sam Bush’s music in its varying incarnations, and am excited about Tift Merritt, also a North Carolinian.
So, an extraordinary week, with two pilgrimages: to County Line by the Lake and to Merlefest. It is, I realize, an abundant life, if you know where to look for it!