Wednesday night, despite the fact that I was feeling slightly tired and anti-social, I bought a sandwich, climbed into my car and headed across the Walt Whitman Bridge to Haddon Lake Park to meet some friends for the free Dar Williams concert.
I always find the transition from Philly to New Jersey a little jarring, especially if I head off the main roads and into the neighborhoods. Much of the architecture reminds me of Portland, with the big old houses and tree-lined streets, that I spend a moment trying to figure out where I am and if it is possible for me to have traveled 3,000 miles in 15 minutes. However, just when I’m totally befuddled, I drive up to a deeply confounding roundabout and I know exactly where I am.
When I arrived at the park, I was actually hugely surprised to discover how easy it was to find parking and then the amphitheater (you know you’ve lived in the middle of a large city for far too long when you look suspiciously at stretches of curb that both unoccupied and without signage). Una and Juli were already there, saving some seats in the bleachers. I found them easily and settled in.
As we watched the opening act, I started thinking about the number of times I’ve seen Dar Williams in concert. Somehow, I’ve managed to work it out so that I’ve seen her perform every year, nearly always in the spring or summer, since I first moved to Philly in 2002. In the beginning I always saw her with Cindy and Ingrid. Some years Una, Georgia, Shay and Jen came along as well.
Last year, she played the Upper Merion Concert Under the Stars on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. I went with Shay and the guy I was dating at the time. The weather was uncertain and kept threatening thunderstorms all evening, putting the concert in danger and eventually forcing us to run for the car and head home. It was sort of a tense evening, and I remember feeling like it has colored my experience of Dar and her summer concerts.
It was so very different Wednesday night. The weather was beautiful and there was no tension, just the pleasure of being with friends and getting a chance to be within literal spitting distance (not that I would do something like that) from a beloved artist.