Finding peace in the noise, in the face of the storm
It’s hot, but the breeze is blowing intermittently. I see The Oak Ridge Boys’ equipment trailer just behind the outdoor stage.
Volunteers working tents for 3rd Congressional district candidates are taking tents down. They’ve been advised 30 mph winds are imminent.
Emergency flash flood warnings are popping up on cell phones and the skies are darkening. The scents of catfish, funnel cakes, wet dog, beer and cigarettes mingle with the scent of the Georgia Pacific mill in my nostrils.
We are at the 44th annual Atwood Music Festival in Monticello and enjoying the live music.
Two early performers — Doug Duncan, Third Beat — had already performed by the time we arrived, parked and carried our folding chairs to the performance area at the Atwood Water Park. Stage hands were busy covering non-essential equipment with plastic in preparation for Tropical Storm Alberto’s arrival.
Roving event representatives are warning people to use common sense and get to shelter if it begins to lightning, but also repeat assurances that the show will go on no matter what. Unless the weather gets too bad — then ignore those assurances.
After a young lady acknowledges military veterans in the scattered lawn chair audience, she reminds us all what a wonderful county Lawrence is and then the members of Logan Greenlee and Band — who have been patiently waiting with smiles and instruments poised — kickoff their set.
My wife is enjoying the classic country music and snapping pictures of grandparents and mommas dancing with their young’uns. I’m taking mental snapshots of the simple glory of the classic single neck pickup Fender Telecaster guitar played by guitarist/vocalist Tanner Stewart and the white chunky Les Paul with double closed goldtone humbucker pickups played by guitarist Lane Simmons of Brookhaven.
Along with the small-bodied Fender four-string bass — wielded by a bass player who looks onstage like a university frat boy kidnapped by a cadre of rednecks — and a dark sunburst concert series Gibson acoustic flattop — played by lead singer Logan Greenlee — these guitars made a pretty sight on stage for me.
I’m a terrible guitar player. I play for my own amusement, and my audience of one can barely stand it. But I love guitars. I’m impressed by the way these five guys handle their instruments and vocal duties, and rotate through playing each other’s weapons over the course of their show. I don’t recognize half the songs they play, but they’re playing them well, I think.
I can’t hear anything my wife says to me, but she’s smiling so I smile and nod, too. Neither of us is sure if the evening’s main attraction, The Oak Ridge Boys, will be able to perform a few hours from now because of the promised wet weather, but we’re enjoying the day. The Oaks are set to have a meet-and-greet at 8:45 or so, prior to their performance, but at 8:15 the show is going to be canceled because the storm is about to arrive with a vengeance. It’ll be the first time in the festival’s 44 years that weather will have shut it down.
But we don’t know that yet. So right now I’m looking around the crowd, returning smiles and nods.
I’m picturing myself silly dancing in front of a stage with the grandchildren I don’t yet have and thanking God for the simple pleasures of life — like well-played music, cold water, pretty guitars, a laughing wife and a cool breeze. And I marvel a bit at the fact that as the loud music drowns out everything else, I can feel my worries slipping away and hear the quiet voice of God whispering to me he’s got this.
And as I feel the first cool drops of rain on my arms, I know it’s true.
Lifestyles editor Brett Campbell can be reached at email@example.com or 601-265-5307.