Vance's Black History Month Midwest Tour, and you're invited!!...

….I have no idea what the subject line means. I needed an angle. In any case, Hi Everyone! here’s where I’ll be:

2/22 Cedar Rapids, IA - http://www.legionarts.org
2/23 Skokie, IL - sheljc@comcast.net- SOLD OUT
2/24 Valparaiso, IN - http://www.frontporchmusic.com
2/25 Ann Arbor, MI - http://www.theark.org
2/26 Traverse City - http://www.sleders.com

That tells that story. Come see me. Or tell someone you know living near the venues above to see me and how much they’ll like it! I’ll be playing stuff from the new album due out….in the next 300 days or so... or something. Look I have a mess of new songs, enough for a new album. The album will come, I promise. In the meantime, I live via the live show. And some teaching/coaching. And some private parties/house concerts.

In the meantime, Facebook, for all its madness, ended up a gift for me this week. Read below and hopefully enjoy,

Peace,

Vance

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Happy Black History Month. Here’s some Black History for you - a letter I posted to a recently found high school classmate, Major General Charles W. Hooper, to his Facebook page:

Dear Charles,

This is a letter 45 years in the writing. We never know how our character, our very being, might affect another, do we? Well, I am writing you to thank you.

See, it went like this.

We were walking in the same direction home from school. Man, you walked fast! We were friendly at JFK High but only in the same circles when it came to some AP classes or Student Council stuff.

You were this brilliant, present, admired, Black man. Athletic, well-known, comfortable in your shoes and skin.
I was kind of gawky, skinny, tennis team, big old glasses, Class Clown 1975. Most of my friends were white. Never had a girlfriend. Went stag to the junior prom. I was just getting into Loggins and Messina. Home was a mess, alcoholics and paranoid schizophrenics ruling the roost. While I had some skills to protect myself, and I wasn’t exactly being bullied at school, I was vulnerable, uncertain, and hurting from something someone said. So I let my guard down and asked you:

“Hey Charlie…am I an Uncle Tom?”

You stopped. Cocked you head at me, and without missing a beat queried back, “Did you buy heroin today?”

“Wha…?”

“Did you buy heroin and then proceed to sell it to kids at the elementary school?”

“No, I’ve never…”

“Did you disrespect anyone at school today?”

“No, I’m pretty sure I...”

“So you’re not an Uncle Tom. Uncle Toms do stuff that make Black folks look bad. They sell Black people out. You are so not an Uncle Tom...”

And we kept walking. You peeled off for your house, waved. I did something or said something silly as I was want to do. You chuckled in that way I bet you still do - shoulders up and down, up and down, eyes and mouth making 3 identical, warm, long lines on your face, shaking your head. I continued to walk to Buckingham Park, not any wiser as yet, but just a little taller.

Like any classmates we took pretty different paths. I’m betting today we are politically different. You are successfully career U.S. Armed Forces (thanks for serving). For me, the Loggins and Messina seemed to have stuck - I’m a semi-known folk singer, 13 albums out. Jim Messina and I are at the same booking agency. But I will say this - I continued to blaze a different trail, at least half confident that I am representing with some truth who I am in my day to day as a Black man, as a decent human, in part because of that unforgettable moment.

Thank You.

Vance Gilbert

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Major General Hooper's answer:

Dear Vance:

I could not agree with you more that often those chance encounters with others we meet along life’s journey can have profound impacts. Thank you for recounting ours and I am so glad that it is a good memory. I remember our walks home from school and our conversations very fondly and vividly. You always made me smile. As the poet Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Our conversations and interactions always made me feel happy. After all these years, they still do. I have been a fan of your music for many years. I still remember the thrill of getting “Shaking off Gravity”, listening to “Hey La De Da” (still one of my favorites) and thinking, “Wow, Vance is amazing!” When your name has come up (I lived and studied in Cambridge, MA twice so I knew many folk music fans in NE familiar with your music) I have always very proudly told people that I knew you back in the day. I hope you don’t mind. I still hold out hope to have a chance to hear you in person. For the record, I still laugh— a lot and mostly at myself! You can’t do what I do and not have a sense of humor. I am so glad we reconnected. I look forward to seeing you, catching up and laughing about where life has taken us.

Lastly, thank you Vance for remembering me and your kind words.

All the very best. Still just,...

Charlie Hooper

BTW: I was a college radio DJ at West Point. Loggins and Messina— interspersed with jazz fusion, EWF and Rufus - was a significant part of my playlist. So our musical taste in those day was not that far apart.