I traveled back through my old, old stomping grounds to Old Zionsville (a heartbeat away from Shimersville – as in Sheiks) to defend my title of Acoustic Performance winner last year.  I knew it’d be a steep climb, with new and talented folks taking it on, but I had a plan.  Break the mold and play something strong, and. perhaps less folkie.  Why not.


It was nice to catch up with so many folks, in so many amazing ways.  Old music friends like Steve Walker, Tom and Betty Druckenmiller, Jim Steager, Porter Shimer.  New friends like the LLM folks, Jason and Ansel, Peter Scapegrace and family, et al.  So many good folks with interesting life intersections – folk’s experiences at Godfrey’s, Rosalie’s third grade class mate now playing fine music, another young lady who shared an evening in Nazareth, etc.  Simply stumbling into communications with the past…..


The judges consisted of a jazz drummer, a newspaper music critic and an old-timey banjo/radio programmer.  Hmmm… what to play?  The banjo guy is a friend, the critic has problems with folk, and who knows about a jazz guy?


Jason and Ansel did a great set.  Runa, an Irish duo, were my favorites, and many wonderful moments of young folks, older vets taking chances.  Amazing to witness.  Steve did a Bethlehem Parking Authority song that hit really, really close to home.  Opera/country rock.  Genuine christian music. 


I opted for my strongest tune Smokin’ Babies, over a bunch of strong tunes – Bo Diddley and Vegetable Song. The process actually brought up a bunch of really strong tunes that I could have played.  I decided to go up in flames or, more appropriately, up in smoke, with an edgy, satiric song that kicks.  I played it well, and it sounded fat (from friends in the audience).  I gave it my best shot in front of an audience not used to challenge.  In a way, a statement to the rock critic. 


The evening (42 something songs) progressed and the magic continued.  The Best Song went to a new fellow Bill Buttner’s “You Don’t Know Nothing about Me” about street people, and Peter Scapegrace won Best Performance, which is well deserved.  He’s got a great voice, strong guitar and a wonderful three-year old daughter who flirted with me through out the second set.


I reflect on that I took an artistic chance, played well amongst a much more challenging array of musicians, and did my best.


The  kicker turns out to be, as I headed towards the green room, I was best upon by a gentleman involved with the LVMA’s, who said he was disgusted by my song, ‘Smokin’ Babies’, that any mention of children and cigarettes was plainly foul.  I was taken aback, but intrigued with his reaction.  I decide not to proceed with my definitions of “irony”, but kind of pleased with his visceral response.


It turned out differently than I had imagined.  But the experience was worth it.