Hunter Altschul, Robert Baldwin, and Diane Ward with Jack Shawde
Chrystal Hartigan’s Songwriters Showcase – 04/09/12
Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale
Family. Six letters, three syllables, and a thousand meanings. What bonds stronger or lasts longer? Nothing that we know. And in the world of musicians, there is nothing more profound than the kinship we feel when playing and sharing song with one another. So it was that a profound sense of family permeated the air last night at Chrystal Hartigan’s Songwriters Showcase at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (www.chrystalhartiganpresents.com and www.facebook.com/chrystalhartigan) when I realized that each of the featured performers had special relatives in the audience.
Hunter Altschul (www.facebook.com/HunterAltschulMusic) led off the in-the-round performances playing to none other than Alicia, his mother, sitting front row center. Beginning with The Ocean’s Tongue, a fingerpicking and harmonica piece, he unfolded the world of communication that belies all relationships as both foundation and fault line. Robert Baldwin (www.BaldwinImages.com) played next with his Sister Ellen listening and photographing from the audience. Singing his song titled Same Old News, its antiwar message to stop kicking the dog around could just as well apply to households as to nations. Finally, Diane Ward (www.DianeWard.com) accompanied by Jack Shawde (www.JackShawde.com) completed the first round with Diane’s father, Lynn, seated in the attentive crowd. Her song, titled Lucky, spoke of the yearning to connect with another that all individuals share, a feeling at the heart of all relationships and families.
As the evening continued, each player performed another piece of the family mosaic. Who has not been unexpectedly bedazzled by another as in I Saw Something Graceful (Altshul), or at times found life utterly devastating as in Down And Out On The Street (Baldwin), only to find oneself driving across country to make a great escape as in Wide Awake (Ward/Shawde). In continuum, each of these songs poignantly emphasized the struggles and satisfactions we find when relating to one another. The longing of Faithfully Am I (Ward/Shawde), the quiteness of Calm Of Calm (Altschul), and the joy of The Day That Peace Broke Out (Baldwin) all held special meaning as a son, brother and daughter performed for a mother, sister and father.
So it is good to remember that there is no performer without an audience, and no audience without a performer. Yet, the greatest performance we’ll ever do is in our daily relations with each other. Take that on stage and add music, then you really have something special.
Chrystal Hartigan’s Songwriters Showcase is on the second Monday of each month starting with an acoustic open mic at 7:30 p.m. that is followed by featured performers in the round beginning at 9:00 p.m. (see links above).