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Garrison came to the Filene Center at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia last evening for the first of two final performances there.  Tonight’s will be broadcast on National Public Radio and will then be available to download on Sunday afternoon.

Prairie Home Companion’s future host Chris Thile joined Garrison as a guest; Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks provided a blast of big-band jazz and amazing participation in the show’s varied genre throughout the evening by adding musical voice to some of PHC’s many traditions.

Heather Masse sang several solos and duets with Garrison, including a haunting rendition of Argonne.  (this is a taping of his solo from two years ago…).  Once I have the taped duet, I’ll replace this one.  Argonne was written by Keillor and he describes it thus:

I wrote it, to an old tune “Lowlands” so instead of “Lowlands, lowlands, away my boys” I sang “All gone, all gone away, my boys, all gone away.” I wrote it after seeing the picture in the paper of President Obama laying wreaths on the graves of several American soldiers who died in World War I, and I thought someone should say yet one more time that it was a senseless war that slaughtered a whole generation of Europeans and that laid the groundwork for World War II. Those men the president honored (and rightfully so) should never have fought in that war and, beyond that, General Pershing’s tactics were all wrong. Twenty-six thousand American men died in one day of fighting and press censorship kept the news of that disaster from the American public. Attention was further diverted by the Army’s promotional campaign to make Sgt. Alvin York, a genuine hero, famous.

 

 

At dusk the audience harmonized with Garrison as he joined us and remained in the island between the seats and the lawn and led a number of favorite American patriotic tunes–starting our Memorial Day weekend off just right.

 

 

Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman; pianist and music director Rich Dworsky and the band (drummer Bernie Dresel, Larry Kohut on bass, Richard Kriehn on mandolin and fiddle duties, and the many guitars of Chris Siebold were all on hand to make fine music and humor (including some very funny jabs at the Donald). Guy Noir anecdotes–and finally the show ended with a most touching story from Lake Wobegon.

We will all miss you Garrison….and all of your wonderful guests.

 

 

 

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory