Saturday Night on the Square

A few years ago as I scattershot street scenes in my wife’s Texas hometown, I noticed a pile of cars pulling up, parking, and people filling the vacant lots surrounding the green grass of the town square. Men and women armed with cases of acoustic guitars, basses, banjos and violins (fiddles) gathered in pockets in the grass, leaned against streetlight poles or squat on hoods of cars.

Groups formed. Some people chatted and laughed while others remained quiet, speaking only to their family and friends in this socioeconomic and culturally diverse impromptu mass gathering.

Until a single foursome hit the note and erupted…

A Joyful Noise

Singers sang and players played. Musicians wandered from group to group. Battles erupted between groups and within groups, trading lick for lick in a musical challenge and response. I dropped my camera gear, grabbed a small piece of turf in the center, and enjoyed the sounds and sights of children of all ages moving and dancing, listening and singing. Two hours in, I snapped a shot of a mandolin player at play.

The Mandolin Rained

As a suddenly as summer thunderstorm gathers, showers the ground with wet drops of nourishment and vanishes, the music faded and players disappeared as dusk rolled in.

All souls, uplifted by the notes and noise, connected on a level without words or need for words before retreating back to their own normalcy, leaving the square refreshed, simple and beautiful.


Credits: A play on the lyrics from Mandolin Rain by Bruce Hornsby and John Hornsby from the Bruce Hornsby and the Range album, The Way It Is (1986). Image: JM Hess | One Sojourner.  Contrast