It was another one of those weekends where everything was happening at the same time. It’s a Chorale concert weekend, downtown was hosting the Reedy River Race as well as the March for Science. There was baseball, festivals in just about every small surrounding town, and more than one individual could take in. Yet, we managed to squeeze in quite a bit of it in one day.
My day started early with a pre-rehearsal breakfast with Chorale friends. This has gotten to be a tradition before our Saturday dress rehearsals. I think we missed it last year, but this year eight of us took over the Waffle House on Pleasantburg.
The rehearsal itself went well. Bing only had us start some pieces and not sing through everything. Don Kirkindoll sits next to me, and I think he described it best. We had reached a point of diminishing returns, where more rehearsal wouldn’t really help. The concert is Sunday at 3:00 pm at First Baptist of Greenville, and should be a crowd-pleaser. We are doing a selection of American songs, all in English for a change. We repeat the concert the following Sunday at Taylors First Baptist.
March for Science
Since this was Earth Day the March for Science had been planned for cities all over the world. The main one was in Washington DC, and was meant to draw attention to the current administration’s idiotic policies regarding the suppression of scientific inquiry. Other local marches were taking place across the US, including Greenville.
I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it. Our rehearsal was supposed to last until 12:30, and the event started at noon. Laura drove up to Furman and took a shuttle bus downtown. I planned to meet her there when I could. However, since Bing turned us loose so early from rehearsal I had plenty of time to join her before the event got started. When I arrived, the One Place Plaza was fairly empty. Laura had secured a table and coffee.
Laura was sporting her atom earrings and had a new T-shirt. I went in search of the same (T-shirt, not earrings.) There was a table where I could check in and purchase a T-shirt and get a new bumper sticker for my kayak.
The organizers pointed to a stack of signs and encouraged me to take one to hold. I declined, saying that I was going to be taking photos. The first photographic opportunity walked up – the Flying Spaghetti Monster incarnate. Sadly, I was not touched by his noodley appendage.
Behind the sign up table were other tables for various organizations. The American Humnanists were represented, as well as Friends of the Reedy River and displays on STEM education.
With new T-shirt in hand I walked back to Laura. We sat and watched the crowds gather, some in costume, most with signs of some sort.
Several of our friends joined us. Tim Hanks and Nina Veas, Bill and Wendy Pennington, and John Kaup were there with us, as well as several of Laura’s chemistry students.
Tim Taylor also arrived, wearing his signs.
Soon the event got underway. Several speakers took the podium, and there were…problems. First the wind was howling through this urban canyon. One assistant was holding an umbrella to shield the microphone from the wind, but I think he just exacerbated the problem. The other problem was that NONE of these speakers really expressed themselves well. Truth be told, it was boring as hell. I told Laura that what they really need was an orator, a good-old fashioned preacher to spread the news and catch everyone’s attention. This just brought home the fact that well-spoken scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson are fairly rare. What it DIDN’T do was make anyone outside this select group increase their concern for these issues. I honestly don’t remember a single thing any of the speakers said.
I also told Laura that this reminded me of ComiCon. There you had people in costume and they wanted you to see them and take their photos. While there were a few people in costume, the attraction here was the signs. To be sure, they were very clever. With this many smart people, how could they not be? I have no question about the dedication of these folks to scientific ideals, but it seemed as if the whole purpose of the event was to be seen and photographed, rather than to voice the very real concerns about attitudes toward science.
Of course, Laura and I weren’t immune. I had slipped on my new T-shirt and was sporting a pro-science sticker.
More of our friends joined us to try to listen to the speaker. After awhile Laura and I decided we had enough, and it was time to leave. I took one more shot of the crowds from the parking deck.
I drove Laura up to Furman to retrieve her car and we rendezvoused back home for the next activity.
Greer International Festival
One of the many festivals happening around the Upstate this weekend was the Greer International Festival. My drummer friend Jeff Holland had posted that the Our World Festival would be participating, and had sent out invitations to join them at 3:30 for a drumming demonstration. Laura had yet to participate in a drum session, so I thought this would be a good time for her to join in. We loaded up chairs and my djembe and headed toward Greer.
Greer was crowded, but it wasn’t too bad. I think we were getting toward the end of the festival. We found close parking without too much problem and walked over to the festival site. There tents set up with all sorts of cultural displays. One African dance group was playing a large drum and doing choreographed moves in the open green space. We bypassed these and headed straight to the amphitheater where we were to meet Jeff and crew.
At the amphitheater a Latin dance school was putting on quite a show. Jeff had said to meet at three, but this group continued until nearly 3:20. Soon Jeff, his wife Lori, and several others arrived with a cart full of djembes and other percussion.
We set up on the amphitheater stage. I’d thought we would just be gathering around the stage. I didn’t know I’d be up there performing, so to speak. About seven of us were in a row behind Jeff. Other djembes were set up on a wall behind us where others would be encouraged to join in. Smaller drums and percussion were available to the side of the stage. When we got started, there weren’t too many people in the audience.
Since we were on stage Laura decided NOT to join in. She did, however, encourage others to come up and grab a drum and join in. I think we had more people on stage or behind the stage playing with us that were sitting out in the audience. Jeff did a masterful job of keeping everything on track and as with the festival I’d attended earlier, he took us through rhythms from around the world. The thirty minutes allotted for our performance passed quickly. I wanted to keep playing.
It was a great day and there was still quite a bit of it left. Laura had said something about a baseball game at Furman at 6:00, but we were just too worn out. We had already done enough and then some for one day.