Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How Stormy Weather Brightened the Blues With Harmony

It was ironic that a summer thunderstorm to start a Saturday morning was the day we had planned for the blues. 

As I sipped my coffee gazing out the window to watch the rain drops bounce off the pavement, I had a sense of mixed feelings. It was relaxing to watch the rain and hear the rumbling of thunder in the distance, but this was also the day we had planned to go to the Lowertown Blues and Funk Festival

It was the annual outdoor music fest taking place at in downtown St Paul. They said the blues and funk party would begin at 11:30 rain or shine. 

However, the weather man was spinning another funky forecast. The threat of possible tornado warnings could put a different twist on the whole shake, rattle and roll event.  

Still sipping my coffee, I watched the birds eat their morning seeds as they soared through the rain back to the trees and I wondered if the day would be saturated in the blues of stormy weather instead. 

Mister O or "radar" as I jokingly call him, loves to check his weather radar app on his phone ALL THE TIME!  He's obsessed with it!  He’s also a fisherman, so I believe he has a need to be attuned to upcoming weather. 

Anyway, Mister Radar revealed his so called meteorologist analysis that the storm would be passing and we should be rain free by the afternoon. 

Maybe we could make the festival, after all. But, there was a hitch....more rain was in the forecast along with a tornado watch.  Keyword WATCH not warning. 

Living in Minnesota you get used to hearing the term "tornado watch."  Not to underestimate the threat, but we just can't overreact and let it ruin the day. It's important, of course, to WATCH and be ready to take cover.  

Just like Mister O had predicted the rain stopped and we could actually see blue skies to the south. St Paul just happened to be in that clearing direction. 

A few stormy patches lingered in the distance, but we decided to adventure out anyway rather than being cooped up in the house feeling prisoner to the "weather terrorists meteorologists."

Music and fun is what the sky gods ordered and if the sky decided to blast it's furry on us, there were plenty of public places to go for shelter. 

With an upbeat attitude and umbrella in tow, we scurried out the door to hopefully enjoy some of the rain free day. 

When we arrived, I noticed that the threat of turbulent weather had kept the crowd to a manageable level. As we made our way in and merged into the gathering of devoted blues fans, I could hear the sweet sound of the saxophone flooding the cloudy skies as it gently swayed through the park. 

The noticeably diverse middle age crowd along with a handful of young families had already taken their spots around the walkways and gardens of the park sitting comfortably in lawn chairs. 

It wasn't more than an hour of blues inspired tunes when a soft drizzling of rain showered over us. The band kept playing through while protected from the rain, when suddenly like flower buds bursting open to the rhythm of the music, umbrellas began to pop open one by one presenting a bouquet of colors throughout the park. 

It was actually a very serene moment. Settling into a trance among a garden of umbrellas, a misty rain and the slow groove sound of the blues. 

No sooner had the drizzle swelled into larger drops of rain, when guess who couldn't resist checking the weather radar?  That'd be the guy standing directly in front of us! Ha! 

Oh don't be fooled, Mister O quickly made a connection with him and in record time he had pulled his radar app out too. 

They both compared Doppler do-hickies, wind directions, and precipitation levels of beer to wet their whistle. It was like they were long lost weather app buddies. Birds of a feather...I guess. 

The sea of colorful umbrellas didn't put a damper on the crowd or the band. The party rolled on and I saw people dancing in the rain and others bopping their umbrella to the beat of the music. 

We stood our ground through the soft rain right up until the band ended their set. The MC announcer approached the mic and broadcasted that if any tornado warnings or severe weather should rattle the hatches, they would let us know to take cover. But, for now, stick around and don't leave as more blues and funk will shine the stage momentarily. 

Like true Minnesotans and an old hand with wavering weather, we knew we couldn't be afraid of a few storm clouds and we weren't about to pack it up just yet.  Not to be roused, we headed to the nearest restaurant and bar where blues fest survivors could fill up on the necessary provisions to ride the storm out. Many festival goers muddled into the micro-brewery and grill with dripping umbrellas and a hopeful smile. 

To be honest, our experience here could have turned out to be worse than just wet flip flops and a cooled blues disposition since the kitchen had served me a very subpar chicken sandwich. Thankfully, the manager recognized that poultry should be cooked completely and made it right by picking up the tab and buying me a beer to express their apologies.  Not to mention, kudos to him for going all "Hell's Kitchen" on the cook and making my day brighter with a free lunch. 

It was a new day when we walked out the door an hour later. The bright sunshine was piercing through the leftover clouds and the blues guitar was strumming from the park once again. 

Noticeably, more people had gathered in the park taking their place as if they were the first ones to arrive there that day. Not long after, a musician from the band quickly gave a shout out to us die-hard fans that had sat through the rain earlier and let those newbies know who wore the true blues badges that day. Funny, but all good!

The storm moved on and the music and sunshine poured over everyone. Looking around, I noticed how music brings all varieties of people together and what joy it brings. Many, including us, were walking up to police officers on duty and shaking their hands to thank them for their service. 

With everything going on in this crazy world, it was assuring to see so many varieties of the human race gathered in harmony and happiness. Even through the storm, kindness and respect for one another had beamed through. Interestingly, many lyrics that make up the Blues are based on stories of poverty, lost relationships, racism, death, love and many more. Quite possibly, there's a little piece of the Blues that we can ALL relate to. 

When you think about it, if we had decided to stay home that rainy day, we would've missed out on experiencing the goodness that exists out there beyond the storm clouds and how music can make us feel connected. 

I’m here to say, don't let stormy weather ruin the harmony of your day. We may experience the blues, but finding a connection with others is how we can ride the storm out. 

Peace Out!

Put your smile on and unwrap
   A Square of Chocolate,
Laurie O

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  1. My favorite piece of this entire post is your paragraph which begins: it was a very serene moment.
    May just be the unflagging Texas sunshine talking :-) but it all sounds heavenly.

    1. Thanks Carla! I love that Texas sunshine part in you :)

  2. This spoke to the "Kumbayah Kid" in me; especially ending on peace and harmony.
    Thanks Laurie! You made me smile when reading the umbrellas popping open like flowers to the rain and then seeing them be-bop to the rhythm of the blues. Dee

    1. Thanks Kumbayah Kid "Dee" - I was hoping to make you all feel like you were there with me! And, the peace and harmony...we can all hope for it. :)

  3. Sounds like it was a beautiful day even if the weather didn't exactly cooperate! I like the pictures of the umbrellas, all colorful and happy, and the thought of someone bobbing their umbrella to the beat makes me smile.
    :) gwingal

    1. Hi Nikki! Actually it was kind of fun enjoying a music fest under a misty soft rain. All the umbrellas were definitely a vision. Thanks for stopping by :)


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