January 18, 2009

A Prairie Home Weekend

Last weekend after Son returned to college with most of our cash, we found ourselves searching for enough one dollar bills to go to Arby’s. While paying for our fast food with a stack of ones, we both had the same thought at the exact same time. We looked as if we had robbed a carnival cash box.

Now after payday, we headed off to the Relatively Big City for a weekend respite from the January cold and economic gloom. We stayed and dined at the Brown Hotel (home of the Kentucky Hot Brown -- no friend of the unclogged artery). The historic hotel is a 1923 structure full of beautiful art reproductions and paintings of Kentucky thoroughbreds.

Walking a block down Fourth Street, we went to the Louisville Palace Theater, an architectural treasure in the Spanish Baroque style. (This theater reminds us of the old Tampa Theatre and happy memories of viewing many movie classics on the big screen when Husband was in graduate school. Seeing “The Wizard of Oz” on a theater screen in full glorious Technicolor is amazing. Scary, scary flying monkeys.)

The lobby of the Louisville Palace features a gold, arched ceiling, ornate Moorish carvings, and a beautiful blue and white palazzo tile floor. In the theater itself (and we had a good look at the ceiling from our bird’s eye cheap seats) the ceiling is painted a range of blues from cobalt to aquamarine to suggest dawn to dusk. In the ceiling are carvings of great historical and literary figures. Structures that look like Spanish castles adorn each side of the stage and up over entrances and alcoves.

The show last night was the live production of “A Prairie Home Companion”. Garrison Keillor and crew have been on public broadcasting for more than thirty years. (A decade ago, a young female friend of mine when asked about her ideal man said indignantly, “Well, I sure don’t want a man who wears sweater vests and listens to NPR!” Husband wore his blue sweater vest and looked quite handsome.)

Keillor sang his own version of the Cole Porter tune “Let’s Do It – Let’s Fall in Love” before the live portion. Then he began with the familiar theme song. Seeing this live was somewhat jarring but doesn’t take away from listening on Saturday nights.

One of the things I love about APHC is its eclectic nature. Several weeks ago, the Christmas show featured Yo-Yo Ma and Renee Fleming. In Bluegrass territory, much of the music was country. Grand Ole Opry member Patty Loveless sang 4 songs including her newest “Sleepness Nights.” We really liked the second singer Brigid Kaelen who is amazingly talented – with a bluesy-jazzy torch song vocal range and plays the piano, accordion, and yes, the saw. She played “Over the Rainbow” on the saw with the Guy’s All Star Shoe Band backing up. While I did not and would not again choose the saw as the music for the processional at my wedding 25 years ago, Kaelen made beautiful music from that piece of metal.

The highlight for me was the “News from Lake Woebegone.” Keillor -- in his trademark suit, tie, and tennis shoes – sat on a stool at the edge of the stage and just talked to the audience. He spoke of the cold in Minnesota and a visit to his fish house on a frozen lake. When I was a child, we called stories like his “tall tales”. But his musical, comforting delivery reeled me in as much as his imaginary ghost-fisherman cast his line for January wall-eye on that imaginary Minnesota lake.

Before the term “bucket list” was popular I had a list of my own and seeing “A Prairie Home Companion” live was on it.

Other things remain on the list. While I’m still not married to Paul McCartney, haven’t been to Florence, Italy or Hoover Dam, I was thrilled last night to be present at the taping of “A Prairie Home Companion” with my sweater-vest wearing sweetheart in the magnificent setting of Louisville’s Palace Theatre.

Quoth the raven.