Friday, June 5, 2009

Folk Music - Old College Days Memories of a Coffee House - SHIFT to the PRESENT: THE SHIP (of 1970's Folk Opera Legend) is on WFMT's Folkstage!!

Ruth Sandra Sperling
RSS Designs In Fiber - Internet Shop of Handmade Items In Fibers

Folk Music - Ah-h-h-h! I love it!! That Acousitc Sound!! The sound of plucking strings, honest, real voices, keyboards, drums - harmonies - a cappelas!!

Grew up with it (and other music), but it was in college that it became really part of my social life.

It was the night before my first day of classes at college -- I was out for the evening with a new friend from the dorm room across the hall, a high school friend of hers and his dorm roommate. We ended up in this basement on campus - there was a small stage surrounded by tables and chairs - at one end of the room was a small room with a counter where you could get coffee and tea and pretzel sticks -- folks, behold: The Red Herring Coffehouse of Urbana, Illinois circa September 1969.

I am not going to name names -- some people might be a little in hysterics at who was on that little coffehouse stage singing that night. Then they were college kids - we were college kids (well, there may have been some "townies" there) - we were all having fun -- and those who know, well they know!!

That was the start of, what for me, developed into a wonderful relationship, a refuge, a place of friendship and fun and music and true camaraderie -- it was real life -- for me, for other friends -- and yes, for the musicians, who were real people for all of us -- whoever they were destined to become.

Over the next year that basement coffeehouse was a place to casually drop in on some evenings.

I heard whatever musicians were there, saw whatever movies were being shown -- drank coffee and tea and ate pretzels -- all very casual.

It was during the following summer when some of my dorm friends and me met for a few days -- one of the places we spent some time at was the Red Herring Coffeehouse - and between then and the fall, when we returned for our 2nd year of classes, that we decided that the Red Herring was where we were going to go that fall to meet people. Our group of friends was just not that much into the bar scene -- and we were pretty sure that the Red Herring Coffeehouse was a place to really meet -- and get to know people.

Well - it turned out that way for me and some of the others.

I jumped "head-first" into the folk music scene on campus -- meeting and listening to musicians, meeting college boys and girls -- and townies -- and poets -- and radio people -- and other people's boyfriends and girlfriends -- and packed standing-room-only weekend nights listening to whoever was playing. It was real living - real relationships - real communication -- and I loved it and it became my home-away-from-home.

It was some time during that Fall of 1970 that I met and became friends with one of the folk musicians who became one of the writers of the Folk Opera, The Ship. He was a singer, a songwriter, a writer period (if you get what I mean) -- and through various times of just talking we became friends -- and some time during that time period writings in a notebook developed into a song that became the title-song, "The Ship" (written with someone else, too). That was Steve Cowan.

Over the months that followed amidst all the other happenings in all our lives, a Folk Opera emerged -- a Folk Opera that became known as "The Ship", which you can read about yourself at this link.

Oh - I remember some of the early peformances of individual songs around the Coffeehouse and the chapel upstairs. But by the Fall of 1971, it was a real put-together thing with the group or band performing it together from beginning to end.

It was a real experience to watch -- a real creation.

And I loved it!!

Read their website, which is truly their website, and see for yourself what it became!!

NOW -- FAST FORWARD TO JUNE 2009 -- THE SHIP had been what it was at various times over the years.

Looking forward to tomorrow, Saturday, June 6th, 2009, when I will listen on my laptop using the Live Stream on the Internet of 98.7 WFMT in Chicago (Listen Live Free) to hear my old college friend, Steve Cowan -- and his friends in THE SHIP -- perform Live on Folkstage on WFMT at 8 PM Chicago time -- it will be 6 PM here in California.

Oh - I'm all set up and ready for it - got my Windows Media Player currently installed on my laptop - already checked it out and listened to a bit of Hayden from WFMT tonight (I grew up with his music, too)!!

Memories, yes , but now, in present time today, I am looking forward to it because, yes, I still like the Folk sound -- and I will enjoy listening to it because I love the actual music.

(And, no, it was not Steve Cowan or anyone from THE SHIP on that small Red Herring Coffeehouse stage that first night in September 1969. Right now, here, I just don't want to say. Those who were there, know. It was a time -- it was the beginning of solo careers for some talented musicians in their college years -- what they became, well those who know, know -- and I believe, so very strongly, that everyone deserves to live their own life -- and achieve their own accomplishments -- and, believe me folks, all I can say - is those singers who sang on that stage that night before classes started in September 1969 - they accomplished a lot!!)

Now -- let's get ready to hear THE SHIP now, as they are now....


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