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John Warren Band / Blog

bag lady story

Hi Brian & Marybeth, I talked to Brian yesterday and we are still trying to lock up and confirm a cameraman for the 15th. I will talk to him the beginning of next week. I'd like to share a story with you from the gig at Molly's the other night. As I was finishing setting up an older women approached me. It was hard to tell her age because she was dressed and looked like bag lady. She had about three coats on, a floppy hat on top of shoulder length pure white hair, framing a round, bulbous, blood-veined, alcohol ravaged face. She asked if I knew the song "Galway Bay", and if I let people sing along. I said I was I sorry but I didn't know the song but would try to learn it for the next time so she could sing along. She sat alone in a nearby booth, never undoing any of her coats, and listened to a few songs with her eyes closed, then shuffled out the door. About an hour and a half later she returned, her face a mosaic of red blotches and pale white patches, and sat down. I was finishing an old folk song and just manage to hear a rather sweet harmony note at the end of the song. The room was pretty quite with five or so people sitting at the bar on the right and my bag-lady friend in her booth. I figured what the hell I'll try another old tune and see what happens. I played "House of the Rising Sun" and around the second verse I started hearing some delightful harmony notes. Now, when I play "House of the Rising Sun", I build to a crescendo by the last verse, (one foot on the platform, one foot on the train), and I look over at the booth and there she is just belting out great harmony notes, her eyes closed and her face shining in a beautiful Gospel-singing radiance, transported a million miles away and to another time. The effect and the song ended up being awesome. The folks at the bar who had been very quite most of the night erupted into applause. I then asked her if she ever did gospel singing. She looked me in the eye and said, "Honey, if your trying to get me to church your barking up the wrong tree. This barroom is my church." I laughed and said,” not to worry there would be little chance of me trying to do that and thanked her for singing. Then she shuffled out the door. There is a little more to this story but that about sums it up. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing at my age recording songs and playing solo on off nights in empty dives. And sometimes I don't. John

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