Thanks to the third world ox path known as New York Avenue, the VT van bounced like a Harlem Globetrotter basketball past King Kullen on the way to Hecksher Park. Mercifully the tropical air had drained back to someplace south and sultry leaving a stunning summer day in its wake. Perfect for a late afternoon in the park with music lined up by the Huntington Arts Council and the Folk Music Society of Huntington. Taking the stage tonight would be Susan Werner and Vance Gilbert. These two are not necessarily household names, but those in the know had been telling friends that this was a must-see event. Testing the limits of common sense and sense of humor, the VT brought nearly the entire brood along including the terrible two year old who had spent the day so far beating up her four year old sister and biting the dog. Soon the picnic blanket was soaked with lemonade and the shrimp cocktail sauce was peppered with sand. Still the weather was grand, the crowd was full of neighbors and even the soundcheck was entertaining.
Vance took the stage first and proved to be as entertaining as he is gifted musically. He beseeched the crowd for help getting his material in front of Billy Joel and promised to return for intimate gatherings in Hechcher Park even after becoming rich when Billy Joel and Aaron Neville discover and perform his songs.
Susan Werner joined in after about 45 minutes. Werner’s voice ranges from Alanis Morisette unplugged to Melissa Etheridge. Besides a great voice she has a wicked dry midwestern sense of humor and deadpan delivery. A perfect straight man for Gilbert’s flights of fantasy. The music they made together was even better than the very funny dialogue they shared between songs.
The night ended too soon thanks to the aforementioned two-year old and her own incessant high-pitched monologue that seemed to be wearing thin on the good natured folks sitting around our sticky lemon-scented blanket. We did out best to slink out, and near as we could tell the performers onstage didn’t notice our exit but a few of the people around us might have. We bounced back down New York Avenue with the windows open, the big dipper overhead and the two year old finally taking a snooze.
The Huntington Arts Council and Folk Music Society of Huntington delivered a fantastic pair of performers Saturday night. Write down and remember Susan Werner and Vance Gilbert, they’re great musicians and a hoot to boot.