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July 21st, 2008

Jul. 21st, 2008

Rollercoaster and Return
    Sometimes you can go home again. It's such a cliched anti-cliche, I suppose, but it's really the truth.
    Saturday night, after a long and very unpleasant Friday, BB and I went to a performance by a gentleman we used to know, a man by the name of Marty Peifer. The last time we saw him may have been...hmmm...23 years ago. 
    When we last knew him, he was a relatively successful folksinger in the waning days of the Great Folk Scare in Chicago - for varying degrees of "folk" and the understood varying degrees of "successful" that obtained for being an acoustic act in the waning days of said Folk Scare. The "relatively" has absolutely everything to do with the economics of singing, and nothing to do with Marty's talent. Because he was, and is, overloaded with talent.
    Marty was a folksinger only to the degree that he loved songs by other folksingers. He was much more than that; he was the ultimate performer. He could entertain more people with one song, a broken string that he had to replace, and an out-of-tune guitar which he constantly fiddled with, than most other so-called entertainers could with an entire set list. It didn't hurt that he had a fine, strong voice, capable of great dynamics.
    BB has often said that it was by watching Marty that he learned the art of entertainment and performance, rather than simply standing and singing a song. He's right.
    However, that was years ago, and he left Chicago. We'd heard he'd headed west, gotten into a completely different line of work, and we weren't surprised. A great many of the folks who sang for their suppers in the 1970s and beyond had to leave that life, in whole or in part. Some wanted to, some didn't, but that was life.
    But about a month ago, BB ran into word that Marty was in town, and doing one performance. We got tickets, we went, sat in the front row, and he sang, and performed, and was just as good as I remembered. Better - he didn't break one string, and the guitar was always in tune. He sang his first song, one of the ones I remembered from years ago, and I started to cry.
    Do you know how rare it is to find something is as good as you remembered?
    It's probably not worth all this buildup, I suppose - except that I wanted to tell you how good Marty is - but really; how rare is it?