Sarah Blacker At the Skinny Pancake Friday June 5, 2009 Opening Night Of Jazz Fest

Words by Tim Lewis.

Friday was a long hard workday, but was pretty, gorgeous, sunny and warm. I arrived home at 10 of 5 and hoped Sarah wasn’t really starting at 5. It would be a 20 minute, or more, walk down to the waterfront and, I needed to change my dusty work clothes for the black.

I had a pretty quick turnaround and was out the door by 5:10. Instead of heading downtown, I took a right on North st, crossed the avenue, and ducked down the very steep Depot st that leads to Waterfront Park. It’s so beautiful down there. I walk that way every time it seems appropriate.

I sailed along Lake st until I reached the Skinny Pancake then wandered in and got a beer. I stepped back out to the patio where she was set to play. Most of the tables were full but there was one with two chairs within inches of where she would be playing, and one small table with one chair in the back. I chose the latter ,and was a terrible call.

Sarah Blacker came out, got set up, started to play her guitar, and let loose that wonderful voice. As soon as she did, the groups of people closest to me brought the level of conversation up, and it was a challenge to listen. I forced my focus past the chatter and appreciated her singing and playing as much as I could, but much of the subtleties got lost. I suppose it was pretty much destined to happen that way. Most of the people were there to eat and talk with the music as a sideline. Periodically a loud truck would drive by and completely wipe out the sound. Being on the waterfront meant the occasional very loud boat horn would monopolize several moments.

Despite everything, she played on steady and true. The people close to her seemed a bit more into her and seemed to listen a bit closer, but even still it must have been a great challenge to her. All the way through she was professional and displayed grace. She was delightful the several times she spoke with the crowd. She played through every challenge and impressed me greatly.

The most sublime moment in the evening had to be when suddenly her vocal microphone cut out towards the end of a song. She looked around until she realized her dog Beasley had sat down on something that cut it off. She fixed it and continued on.

When 7pm finally came, she gave us one more song and called it an evening. Having seen her a few times before, and never talked to her, I pushed myself up and walked over. I sometimes get a bit shy around performers that I have a huge respect for, and the fact that she’s a stunningly beautiful woman only makes it more difficult to be coherent. I said hi and chatted for a moment while buying a copy of her album. Soon there were other people lining up to talk to her. I went back to my table and finished my beer and paid my check and really felt how tired I was. This whole week has been exhausting physically and mentally and I realized it was time to go home. I started up the hill but came back to say goodbye when she waved towards me. I again reiterated my respect and appreciation for her, OK I was pretty ineloquent but I’m getting there.

I wandered home and found that Don had indeed stopped by as he often does on a Friday. We played Jeopardy and lost to Mike. I tossed in my new Sarah Blacker cd and played it all the way through. It was so nice to be able to perfectly hear her. Hopefully soon she will be back in a more performance friendly space and I’ll be able to hear it live. Maybe then I’ll even be able to really talk to her.


This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog,