Just hearing those words, “the Frog Pond” makes me light up with happy memories. It was one of my Leon’s favorite places. Late one Sunday evening (a few years ago) he seemed to be in deep thought, then he said, “That Frog Pond is great, it has everything. If a person can’t be happy there, you might as well shoot ‘em, cause they are hopeless.”…
Cathe Steele owns and operates this wonderful venue in Silverhill, Alabama. It is a gathering of fine musicians from around the country and even a few from other countries. The audience is much more than an audience; it is a family reunion of sorts. Actually it gathers music lovers who often feel closer than family.
Early afternoon every Sunday, during the Frog Pond season (late fall through early spring), anticipation fills the air on this little farm in Silverhill. Even the dogs that live there know it is the day. It is the day when happy people arrive; ready to greet one another and sometimes to catch up on things since they last gathered. It is a day of hugs, smiles, laughter, clapping, singing along, foot tapping and patting those sweet dogs that mosey by to see ya.
Everyone who has been there before knows about the covered dish dinner in the farm house, the sweet treats and fresh coffee in the sugar shack nearby. Then there is the porch swings on the deck of the farmhouse and hanging from a tree in the audience area. There are several structures on the farm that provide such things as the sound booth from which all the wonderful music is regulated and tweaked as the show goes on; often they record the show in there too. There is the place where merchandise (CDs, shirts, koozies, hats etc) are made available to purchase from the musicians. There are a couple places to sleep overnight on the farm which helps artists who have traveled to get here. There is a huge chalk section on the fence walls that allow you, even beckon you to write on them. You can express your feelings or write about the experience or say whatever your heart wants us to know.
There is one BIG enemy of the Frog Pond. It is a formidable enemy that is so powerful it decides whether we can even have our Sunday show. It is often called Mother Nature, or The Weather.
Sunday, March 11, 2018 we were teased unmercifully for hours…rain yes, rain maybe, rain yes. Then will it go away in time for the show to begin? Most felt the show would be cancelled, yet hoped upon hope that it would not. The hope was so strong that it won out…the show would and did go on.
Due to all of the doubt about the weather, the crowd was much smaller than it would have been and than it should have been. The phenomenal, world traveling, extremely talented Corky Hughes and Grayson Capps, who are regulars at the Frog Pond if they are not traveling, were there and they were joined by a young man on the mandolin, named Noah Wise. The headliner was David Wilcox. If you haven’t heard David Wilcox, you must check him on YouTube, google him, find him and listen to his stuff.
My son Eric Erdman is a musician and he absolutely loves David Wilcox. When he was playing a lot of covers for a lot of years, one of his regular “go to” musicians to cover was David Wilcox. Two of my favorites, (though I love them all) are “Eye of the Hurricane” and “Rusty Old American Dream”. Do yourself a favor and look those up, listen to them. This man is a gifted wordsman who can craft a song that makes you feel his words deep in your bones. He can make you cry, he can make you laugh, he can make you ask why…for me that is the true epitome of a person who is a real songwriter.
Noah Wise, the young mandolin player I mentioned earlier, stayed on stage and accompanied David Wilcox that day. He filled in the spaces that needed him in David’s songs and finished dressing them for us. Noah is young and quite new as a musician by most scales; but he is the real deal and has a bright future in music.
Even on a rainy day like March 11, even though the parking lot was slippery and slimy in places with mud from the rain, even though the crowd was less than normal, it was a great day for music. David played the same for us as he would have for an audience of thousands. He knew we were there to hear him and that most of us were true fans. A unique thing about David Wilcox is that he laughs a loud, uproarious laugh often. He laughs that laugh after almost every single song. I don’t know if it is a nervous laugh or if he is just so thrilled to be playing his songs. It really doesn’t matter but I do wonder about his laugh.
If I knew how to contact him I would say “Thank You David Wilcox for sharing your talent with us” “Thank you for continuing to write excellent songs for us to fall in love with.”
I also say “Thank you Cathe Steele for the Frog Pond”…it is a piece of heaven carved out on that land in Silverhill, Alabama to lift our spirits.
Thank you for helping us escape from things in life that can bring us down.