I just got back from playing three shows out on the east coast with Johnny Henry (most talented person I've ever met). This is the fifth time that we've done a mini-tour in New England, and every year we play different places for the first two nights; this year we played at a brew house in Ipswich, Massachusetts then played at another small brewery in Bangor, Maine (I'm seeing a pattern here). That said, we always perform at the same place on the third night--an outdoor house concert at the Land Camping Area in Brownville, Maine.
The Land Camping Area is owned and operated by George and Harriet Eddy. The modest campground is a beautiful 50 acre plot adjacent to the Pleasant River. It's exactly how you would picture the interior of Maine. Natural, wooded, cool, and wild. George is a logger by trade and operates the campground because he loves the outdoors and he loves being around people. On any given day, you can find George riding around on his four-wheeler, tinkering, visiting, and drinking. Whiskey.
I've spent more than my share of evenings sitting with George on his front porch sharing stories and sipping on Canadian Lord Calvert or Jameson. George is larger than life with a laugh that is infectious. In true Maine fashion, he spins a yarn like nobody I've ever met. Most of it is true, but I'm sure that a bit of hyperbole is thrown in for good measure. And George is tough...I guess you have to be if you cut wood for a living. So tough, in fact, that he has taken care of his own dental problems over the years by employing the pliers from his Leatherman multi-tool. All of this is who he is and what he does without apology.
My nights on the front porch with George have sometimes been funny, sometimes been somber, and always been inspirational. You can toss a rock from that front porch to the bank of the Pleasant River. The din of the water flowing by is almost audible over the laughing, crying, and drinking. For me, that river has come to symbolize all of those boozy, soulful conversations, and several years ago I was inspired to write a song about it all called "Mighty North River." It's a song that I sing for George every time I'm up there. And every time I sing it, George has the same reaction. No words spoken. Whiskey glass raised.
I'm already looking forward to next year.