Young and Old and Blind at Wolftrap
I went to Wolftrap last night to hear Arlo Guthrie, having lost track of how many times I had seen him before. I had forgotten the concert also included the NSO. And I never knew about the jazzy string trio Tf3 (Time for Three) that stole the show in my opinion.
After the 6 of us sat down, we had filled the row except for a seat on each end. It was unlikely there would be singles, so maybe we could stretch out a bit or so we thought. But then a hulking big guy showed up at the seat next to me, the kind that barely fits in a regular seat. I noticed he was escorted to his seat and he was blind.
As I sat there reading the program in preparation for the concert, I realized the blind guy was just sitting there without the ability to learn about the evening up front. So I offered to read any part of it he wanted to hear. He opted for the section on Tf3 and we both learned a lot.
He gradually was drawn into the conversation of our group. He seemed to know a lot about everything, including movies. I talked to him about how he “watches” movies or musicals like “Wicked”, which he had just “seen” and loved. In addition to the dialog, he can sometimes get a companion description of what is going on on the screen or stage played through a headset. The Kennedy Center provides this with a 2-week notification. It turns out Tim plays the French horn and is a singer. I knew quite a bit about him by the time the performance got started.
After the NSO played “Hoedown” from Copeland’s Rodeo, Tf3 came out and began to mesmerize us with their virtuosity. They were able to make ordinary violins and a string bass do things I had never before heard. I found myself commenting to Tim from time to time with tidbits like “That’s actually the bass you hear right now.” They were young and energetic and brimming with talent.
For the second half Arlo came out and played mostly songs I had heard before. He plays with the same abandon and enthusiasm, but at 64 his voice is not quite the same. As much as I love Arlo, I was longing for “the boys”, as he referred to Tf3, to come back on stage.
They played together along with the NSO on time-worn favorites like “This Land is Your Land” and “Goodnight Irene.” It was a hot, muggy, music-filled evening that left me humming. I was lucky to sit next to Tim, from whom I got a quick education on how blind people experience things we can see as well as hear.
Check out Tf3 as they play Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".