Jim Blum in the WKSU studio

Lake Erie

September 19th to 22nd, 2002

Here On the Shores of Lake Erie

Madison is a small town in Ohio, situated on the shores of Lake Erie. It is a verdant area of farms and woodlands and vineyards. It represents the Ohio I have pictured in my mind since reading the letters collected from veterans of the Union Army, sent off to fight in the American Civil War. Nowadays, most people think of the city of Cleveland when the state is mentioned. Cleveland, of the heavy industry, of the burning river of the 1970's. As interesting as I find those references to be, I had a much more bucolic introduction.

Through the music I have had the great fortune to meet many exceptional people, one of whom was the sole raison d'être for our trip to this area. Her name is Kelli O'Neil and we have corresponded for a number of years. Kelli has proved a tireless and inspired organizer on our behalf and I was looking forward to meeting her. She is a gracious and generous person who shepherded Dave and I around the area and through the schedule with an ease I can only marvel at. This included The Harpersfield Vineyard Folk Festival, two concerts in clubs, and a particularly enjoyable radio interview at Kent State University, WKSU with Jim Blum.

I brought back a lone bottle of wine from the Vineyard as a souvenir of our trip, but I also came back with many memories that will remain.

One memory is that of the American flags hung from every second lamppost for miles down a particular stretch of Highway 20. This highway runs along the edge of Lake Erie, past the stacks of a nuclear plant. We were there just after the commemoration of the 9-11 attacks. I wrote a song about being in Ohio at just that time.

The memory I hold most dear is sitting in companionable silence with Kelli on a bench overlooking Lake Erie, well after midnight. We could hear the wind high in the trees, and see it manifested in the ranks of waves crashing down on the shore. Off on the horizon the ore boats, lit up like Christmas, were butting their way eastward - down lake to Ashtabula. I waved to them in the darkness.

Dave and I would like to thank Kelli and her family for their kindness and generosity. That kindness represents all the best in America, flags and nuclear plants aside.

David and Kelli, cottage steps, Maddison

back home

photos by David and Kelli O'Neil

David and Dave, Harpersfield Vineyard FF. KO

Guitars packed for the drive home

Nuclear power plant, Ohio