Monday, August 23, 2010

Hot time in Fort Collins

Yesterday I drove to Fort Collins to see my younger son play in a band at the Bohemian Nights festival. The drive was aggravating because I was forced to keep the car's speed below 59 mph. Any faster and the steering wheel shakes violently. I must either get the alignment fixed or start doing exercises to strengthen my grip.

The day was a scorcher. The temperature climbed to the high 90s. I made my way through the thousands of sweaty revelers to the Library Stage, which I was relieved to find next to the library. (Ironic names are always a danger in a college town.) After checking the relative positions of the sun and a nearby shade tree, I put posterior to some shady ground that would remain shady throughout the afternoon. I was ready for the show.

The prologue to any concert with electric instruments (or, in my son's case, an authentic wooden fiddle equipped with an electric microphone gizmo) is the obligatory fifteen minutes of tedium wherein worried-looking sound technicians try to get all the equipment powered up and sound balanced (first photo). Then the band finally steps up and starts cooking (middle photo). In the case of yesterday's concert, the cooking was literal. Under the stage lights, the temperature was about 120 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 50 degrees Celsius).

Stringed instruments drift out of tune with the heat. Guitars go flat. My son's fiddle goes sour in its own peculiar way: the highest string -- the solid metal E string -- goes flat; the lower strings, of wound construction, go slightly sharp.

Toward the end of the concert my son was called forward to take a solo (last photo). You can see the concentration on his humid brow as he works to compensate for his frying fiddle's wayward strings.

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