Skip to main content

Minstrel, Isis, Eddie's, Muse, Godfrey's, PASSIM, Australia...(yawn)

Hi There VanceFan!!

Here’s a nice batch of where I’ll be...

Thurs 9/28 - LIVE on the Eddie’s Attic Facebook site @ 2PM. I get to "take it over" and play, sing talk, and such for like an hour!!
Fri 9/29 Morristown NJ - Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series

Wed 10/4 Asheville, NC - Isis Music Hall
Thu 10/5 ***Decatur, GA - Eddie’s Attic -***
Fri 10/6 Charlotte NC - The Evening Muse -
Sat 10/7 Chester VA - Private House Concert
Fri 10/13 Bethlehem PA - Godfrey Daniel’s: Vance’s 2 Day After Birthday Bash

Sun 11/12 - 1/2/18 - Queensland & New South Wales Australia.,,

Coaching, private parties, workshops, scrimshaw, child care available just ask.


Some folks wanted more details. So it goes like this. My deal for this Farmer’s Pride Airport fly-in was to keep it a secret from the pilot/host’s Dad, play a set, eat all I wanted, and get airplane rides. Have I ever told any of you that I am pretty cripplingly acrophobic?

Gutters cleaned? Call someone else.
Stepladder to prune something 12 feet up? Call someone else.
Step stool to change a bulb in the overhead kitchen light? I’ll do it. Under duress. Only if she can't
Thank goodness for the gutter covers we sprung for last year, so leaves don't have to be swiped out. I hate it when Deb goes up there leaving me shaking like a leaf holding the bottom of the ladder.

These are truths. But when offered a ride in a small plane where the door is help by a screen latch thrown 90 deg and you have to reach under your armpit and move your own rib to close it, every fiber in my body says, “NO - you have nothing to prove. You love planes. You build models. That’s enough. You be a grown-ass, strong, smart, experienced, talented, Black man - you do what works for you, by golly dammit. No need for you to be some AfroRural private plane statistic. Stay your intelligent reasoning ass out of that thing and on the ground”. Every sinew says “no”.

My head and neck always nod yes.

This day is all about barbecue and airplane rides for anyone that shows up. The Amish kids from the surrounding neighborhood that pepper the crowd are certainly not going up in these things, but mingle easily with the other airplane related kids, eating the free food. There’s going to be live music later too. If I live to tell about it.

So there's this guy Rick, who’s a private pilot for a company called Wheels Up, a private plane charter company. This orange J-5 Cub is his toy. His two sons, Ryan 14 and the 16 year old, Joe, stand off to the side of the Cub where folks saunter up to ask for a ride.

Rick says “Grab anything you like to hoist yourself in except this aluminum tube running down the window frame from the wing to the engine. It’s the fuel line.” And hoist it is, into the front seat. “There’s no pretty way in or out, so don’t worry" he laughs. Front seat, nose in the air. I can’t see anything but the sky and the field in my periphery.

I proceed to put this plane on. I get buckled in, and another fellow kindly hand-props the propeller. Yes. There’s no starter. The Continental pops to life on the first pull, and I am gripping the steel window frame like some sort of crazy alchemist trying to pressure squeeze that framework into some other type of material. If I had eaten coal I could have pooped a diamond then and there.

We trundle down the runway and *now* he closes his door just as the tail comes up. We break with the ground, and all, and I mean all fear, trepidation, and scales of my life evaporate. So many have better described this moment than I could, so I’ll just say I loosened my grip until he buzzed both some treetops and a farmer’s field that he knew, banking hard to starboard enough that the horizon itself looked like a weird pine tree climbing away from that patch of beans and corn. I grabbed it kinda tight again then.

The four biplanes that showed up at the fly-in are well in front and below us, in formation as we circle in to set up to land. I didn’t get a camera pic of them, but that’s ok by me. My mind’s eye is far better fed at that moment than my iPhone’s little lens will ever be.

All this time Rick and I were shouting conversationally. He’s flown Tom Brady. I toured with George Carlin. Both sons are musical, and he bemoans that *it* skipped a generation. We laugh heartily at everything.

As he set’s up his last leg to land, I ask “Should I stop talking to you now so you can concentrate on landing?”
“No”, he muses, “I can wreck this thing just as easily whether you’re talking to me or not…”

We taxi back to the flight line and Rick shuts the Cub down. As I am arranging my hands on the various parts of this plane’s inner framework to get out, I joke to the two smiling boys, “OK, who cleans the hurl when a passenger spews?” Joe points at Ryan “He does. Mom and I get sick so our flying is really limited…” Ryan adds, “Since I don’t get sick, I’m the family’s next pilot by default...” I’m cracking up. We all are.

I play my odd set of everything from Glenn Campbell to Vance stuff to John Denver to a circle of chairs of about 30 folks, another 20 standing around behind. The host’s Dad stands to give me a hugshake - you know, one of those man moment things. Many doubt he’ll make another fly-in, and probably won’t get to see me play again. This was indeed a surprise to him. He saw us set up the equipment so he knew something was to happen, but had no idea I would play. Secret safely kept since July. All of that family are pretty teary-eyed, me too. Happy Birthday John.

Joe, the older Rick-son asks “What kind of guitar is that?” I talk a bit about the guitar as I help another R.Barr pack up his sound system - this R.Barr would take no money for its use. I grab a folding chair, hand the guitar to Joe, and pull him off to the side. “Enjoy”.

Snacks. I help roll a few airplanes into the hangars. Some extended goodbyes. Seltzer water. It’s getting dark. An hour goes by. Joe is still playing the guitar. I go down to the balky Waco biplane because there’s a ride waiting for me. I clamber in. This ship’s ignition has been mercurial all day, so it doesn’t start. We get great pics of me in the front cockpit. I come back to the main hangar and all is pretty much packed up. Young Joe come up to me and says “Thanks for letting me play your is so nice...”

I get ready to close the minivan hatch and I remember that *I* never put my guitar back into the case….so perfectly, the cord rolled perfectly by my host’s nephew as a *job* because he wanted something to do, and I found a note written on the back of some business card he found in my case, woven between the strings on the neck of the guitar:

“Thank you very much Sir. You’ve just inspired me to just have fun with songwriting and make people happy. If I get to see you again my name is Joe.”

Here I was in South East Central Pennsylvania. I don’t know how these people voted, or much anything else about them, but they treated me and every other stranger that came - some Asian folks, another Black person I saw, some Amish people - like gold. Everyone got a ride and a hot plate that wanted one. And this kid Joe, word has come down, has not stopped talking about me or the guitar, 3 days later.

Here’s to hoping we all leave a little something any and everywhere we go to anyone.