Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Kevin Keady at Featherstone

July 18, 2005

I don't go out much. I have plenty of excuses for why I don't go out much: in the last five years my favorites have been "I've got a job due in New York in two days," "I'm too tired when I get home from the barn," and "I'm too broke." For the last several days I've been thinking I'd go hear Kevin Keady tonight at Featherstone. A nice fat check arrived in my p.o. box today -- payment for two invoices, one of which wasn't due till the end of the month. Not only was being broke no excuse, I had a reason to celebrate. But when I got home from the barn, a new excuse kicked in: "I have to take a shower, I can't go out without a shower, there's no time to take a shower."

It was 6:15. The concert started at 6:30. The concert was also open air -- like anyone would notice if I didn't take a shower? I exchanged schooling tights for cutoffs, paddock boots for sandals, and threw a long breezy white shirt over the purple tank top I'd been wearing all day. I went.

Kevin writes songs about the Vineyard I know, love, and am frequently pissed off at. About guys whose hopes for the future are entirely wrapped up in scratch tickets, or in the house they're building that's going to change their life; about summer hires and vacationers who disconnect their brains when they get off the boat. "Hay Day," on the other hand, is an unabashed celebration of bringing in the hay; Kevin works on Pimpneymouse Farm on Chappaquiddick, where hay is the major crop. I love this song, not least because my summer job in high school involved mowing hay, raking hay, baling hay, stacking hay, transporting hay, stacking hay again -- you get the idea.

This evening's set was a nice mix of old favorites and new numbers, culminating in "Road Rage," a saga of the Jekyll-Hyde menace on American roads (even Vineyard roads, at this time of year). "Road Rage" was a finalist in the Boston Folk Music Festival's songwriting contest last fall, and it well deserved the honor. A welcome surprise was a mini-set of songs by the late Shel Silverstein, a summer resident: "The Unicorn Song," "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," and -- did I ever know that Shel Silverstein wrote this? -- "A Boy Named Sue."

Concertgoers spread their blankets on the gentle slope of Featherstone's amphitheater; others sat on beach chairs or on the grass. Young children swooped and ran and danced among the majestic trees that shelter the stage. The air was sodden, as it's been all day, but it didn't rain: in any case it's hard to tell rain from a heavy south shore fog. It was quite the fine evening, and a deal at five bucks. I really should get out more often.


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