• One Minnesota Writer

Late Summer Blues

This morning, there is a sharp little twitch of cool in the air. The grass is coated in cold dew, the garden looks as lush as it gets, and there is just a tinge of sadness at the way everything is maturing, ripening. The start of the school year looms – my granddaughter will begin kindergarten and my daughter will be a senior in college. I can’t quite believe it.

It really does all go too fast. Everyone who lives long enough gets this surprise that our elders talked about when we were kids, the same way they talked about the weather, and we all thought they were just making conversation: “Life goes by in a blink!” “It seems like yesterday the kids were little.” “We’re here for such a short time.”

I guess we all have aging and weather in common.

What put me in this mood? Part of it really is the waning summer weather this morning and part of it was going to the Bayfront Blues Fest in Duluth yesterday. Mick and I spent the day with old friends under the August sun listening to fabulous music that included Minnesota gospel artist Annie Mack and British blues legend John Mayall. This is the fourth year in a row we’ve gone with our friends to this festival on the shore of Lake Superior. I’ve started to recognize other repeat concert-goers. There is a guy who wears a Speedo-style pair of trunks on his aging body, his snake tattoo on full display as it writhes out of his trunks in both directions. There are the Deadheads with tie dye and goofy glasses. There are the blues fans who never sit down, but sway by the stage all afternoon. There is the guy who wears a shirt that says Boogie Cat on the back and dances a little like Elaine Benes in that old Seinfeld episode about how she can’t dance, only with more arm motion. There are the camp chair markers – what do you really call those? – on long poles to help people find their chairs after they’ve gone to get something to eat. We sat near the one of a blue saxophone player that I thought was a blue peanut M&M at first, and weren’t far from the chair marker that is a big bra on a pole. We’ve developed a rhythm for the day and have figured out that none of us would last for the whole three days of the festival. One day of sitting in a camp chair in full sun is enough. The smell of sunscreen was strong.

As I looked around the audience yesterday, there was a lot of gray hair. Very few attendees were young, although there were a few little kids who ran through the rows of chairs. Most of the people there could remember their first concerts in the 1970s (that would be me) or the 1960s. There is a certain maturity that goes with the blues. When one of the musicians in the acoustic tent remarked how he’s never seen a fight or violent act at the Blues Fest, I thought well, duh, everyone here is too old for that.

But what energy there was around the music. My generation and the one before mine clearly eschews any idea that we might outgrow our music or our outdoor concerts or our taste for a good beer under the August sky. I saw plenty of people dance with abandon. After John Mayall, who was the closing act, finished the last song of his set and the band walked off the stage, everyone in the audience including me clapped and hollered until they came back for an encore. This old British blues guy and all of us who loved him were not going to stop the music because of the end time printed on the festival program.

All that talk about life moving too fast be damned.


Annie Mack opened the Bayfront Blues Fest on Sunday with a little gospel. My kind of church.


John Mayall closed the Blues Fest in grand fashion.

#outdoorconcerts #summer #duluth #minnesota #bayfrontbluesfest

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