It's getting on to time for my planned "staycation", during which my sister will join me up here in the hills of West-by-God Virginny. I have a lot of things planned, pending weather, but I told her that while all other things are optional, the Virginia Scottish Games are not. And by about 1:00 of what I hope will be a sunny September day I intend to be seated in the main music tent, my second ale of the day in hand, surrounded by plates of haggis, bridies, and various other Gaelic treats that are entirely too heavy for a mid-Atlantic summer day but are, nonetheless, necessary to happiness at a Celtic festival. And, yes, I actually like haggis. Worse, I like festival vender haggis.
When it comes to music I'm a big fan of the little guy. I've done the major venue/big star thing before, but I'd rather be sitting in a tent or a church hall, listening to the folks who never get a huge recording contract, who run to Wal-Mart when the festival runs out of cups, who stand by the vending table talking happily with fans during breaks. There is incredible talent in the world, and thank goodness for the web and the CDs we can order from personal web sites. Festivals are wonderful for discovering new performers - for an entry fee that is generally less than $20 you can spend hours happily listening, singing along, and dancing. Of course, they make a lot of money off of me in sales of food and drink, and I always buy a CD or two, but, still, I consider it a primo deal.
My favorite of these little guys is Alex Beaton (followed closely by Charlie Zahm). Based in Nashville, Beaton is an ornery Scot with a rich brogue, a great love of traditional music and his Celtic heritage, and a performer who obviously loves people. He's generally the headliner at the Scottish Games, and I was really anticipating seeing him perform this year.
But Beaton is currently in a rehab hospital in Nashville, recovering from a serious spinal cord injury. There's a gap in knowledge of what happened - he was sitting on his patio, felt bad, asked his son to get him a glass of water. When his son returned he was laying on the ground and his heart had stopped. Something damaged a disk in his neck so badly that the pressure on his spine interrupted his heart beat. The last news I found on the web was good - the concern has been how much damage was done to his spinal cord, but as the bruising heals it seems feeling is returning. And apparently he's flirting with the nurses and calling his wife a "pain in the arse", which means his personality is intact. Everybody is praying he's returns to his hearty and hale self and is back on the touring circuit ASAP.
We'll still have fun - the Glengarry Bhoys will rock the house and have us dancing in the aisles. But, jeez, I'm gonna miss Alex this year.