When I was young, the ability to hear future and even current chart-topping musicians in intimate settings was a delight that I took for granted. Bob Dylan in a Greenwich Village coffee shop. The Young Rascals, holder of the top spot on the Billboard pop chart, at a joint called Harlow’s with no more than 150 people.
That changed for my daughter’s generation. The Greenwich Village coffee houses were now graced by walk-in artists who never were able to give up their jobs as servers to pursue music full-time. Harlow’s no longer existed. The smallest venue to hear anyone with a number one ranked record seated thousands. So, when it came time for me to take our daughter Jen to enjoy music, it was big-name acts like Aerosmith at Jones Beach on Long Island, New York with 5,000 people or U2 in Wembley Stadium with 80,000 people. The thought that she (and I) couldn’t enjoy top tier music in an intimate setting really bothered me.
Those thoughts were going through my head as my wife Fran and I walked into The Main House at The Ford Plantation one Friday night during the Savannah Music Festival. We joined a small group to snack on delicious, and incredibly copious hors d’oeuvres while listening to two young musicians who are destined for greatness.
The music turned out to be terrific. The pianist was excellent, and the trumpeter, Alphonso Horne, was spectacular. Wynton Marsalis considers Alphonso one of the best jazz musicians of his generation in the world. Alphonso makes a trumpet trill as you’ve never heard—it literally sent shivers down my spine. Despite Alphonso’s diminutive size, his arm barely long enough to use the trumpet mute Satchmo-style, he produced a big sound in every sense of the word.
Best of all, we were experiencing this evening in plush chairs in Henry and Clara Ford’s former living room with 50 or so other Ford members. Golf friends. Fishing friends. Fran’s equestrian friends. Just plain friends. People whose homes we frequent and who frequent ours.
Maybe better yet, this event was for a good cause—a benefit for the Savannah Music Festival. And if you do not know about the Music Festival, you should get to know it. The annual festival runs for about three weeks and artists perform in a wide variety of venues around the Savannah historic district. Chamber music in a church. Cajun dance music in a tent. Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, or others in the Lucas Theatre. From symphonic music to the down and dirty North Mississippi Allstars. And every year, a top group or performer from the Festival plays just for us in the intimacy of Henry Ford’s living room.