A poem for Helen Gillet

Over a year ago, maybe closer to two I guess, I was handed a concert flier. Everybody hands out concert fliers all the time and how often do you look at them? You stick them in a pocket or leave them at the bar.

This flier, I saved. I didn’t even make it to the show, but I saved the flier. And I’m still kicking myself for missing what was the debut performance at the Bee Stage, a few shows of which I’ve documented here and here and, oh yeah, here. I can’t make them all, but every single one I’ve attended has been … something else.

Tuesday night was the return of Ms. Helen Gillet to the Bee Stage, performer at that inaugural concert. And yes, I’ve written about her before, too. This time it was the performance was solo, acoustic and one of the most personal, intimate shows I’ve witnessed.

Now, Gillet does a personal show, that’s her style. She prefaces most tunes with anecdotes, explaining the significance – (remember that music has significance? that it isn’t just churned out by studios trending the latest style, fit for three minutes of mindless commercial radio?) – unless she’s segueing from tune to tune with a seamlessness that doesn’t require, in fact doesn’t seem to desire, acknowledgment or accolades for the performance.

What has happened is significant and what is happening is significant and what will happen is significant.

Let’s not ruin it with our extraneous noises.

Regarding what happened Tuesday night

The asphalt smells as it comes unglued,
Roughly fragrant on a hot July night.
All squeezed into a panty shop, the chattering stops.
She stares up at the crystal daffodils;
She breathes against the heat.
Little squares of distortion, pocket chaos,
A tiny unbalanced moment, a tiny quiver as
The cello is strummed and beaten,
Fiddled and thumped,
Wheedled and smitten.
With smooth velveteen grace she
Utters chansons, and stutters
Her stories between each of the songs.
A bagpiper who traded his harp strings for stilts,
Marched above all the muck in a practice of will.
Accordion players are more handsome
In punk Hungarian; an old man’s lines
Revive travelers’ minds.
Soft smiles and dark eyes, piercing
And sincere, lead a raucous
Drinking song. It trips our expectations,
Sends us reeling away,
When we clap to medieval rhythms.
“Red wine! Red wine!”
Sounds more romantic in Walloon
Even disguised as a man.

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