Across the USA, virtually every city sitting on a river enjoys some sort of River Celebration. The first I remember attending was the HemisFair, in San Antonio, Texas in 1968. They had cleaned and spiffed up the banks of the river that runs through town, built a huge tower (Tower of the Americas) and put up hundreds of exhibits, because this was after all, not a State Exposition, but rather an international one. I don’t know if this was the beginning of the River celebrations, but it does seem that after that, cities with rivers running through began to take advantage of that natural attraction. Nashville, Chattanooga, Little Rock, and several others have, during the past 20 years or so, begun to hold their own version of Riverfest.
And so it was that last weekend I took myself to Riverfest in Clarksville, Tennessee, to hear my grandson Stephen’s band play in one of the venues. Clarksville sits just north of Nashville on the Cumberland River. It’s a sprawling college town, home of Austin Peay University. My granddaughter, Stephen’s sister, lives in Clarksville and other family members and friends met there to have a weekend together and visit Riverfest. And so, we gathered with in the Saturday night crowd to hear the “Technikillers.” (Actually, the Technikillers are well known and appreciated around middle Tennessee, staying busy most weekends.)
This band plays what is called ‘experimental’ music. I have to admit that often I didn’t understand what they were doing, but I could fully appreciate the talent it took to do it. Stephen and his partner, Rusty, have been playing together for over ten years. This was evident when I watched them as they ‘experimented’ in key/rhythm/mode. Suddenly, they make eye contact and move together to the next. While sometimes their music sounded all over the place to me, I could see/hear that they were together. That is really amazing when fingers, guitar picks and drumsticks are moving quite rapidly.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to appreciate what we don’t understand. It’s much easier to toss it out as unworthy of our time. Whatever. That’s my grandson up there and I’m proud of him.
It was a great weekend.