Well, I did it! I sang at the Festival of Friends. I've attended many, many Festivals down in Gage Park, I even used to bring my guitar to play the open stage, or sit under a tree with some friends to sing "Mr. Tambourine Man" or "Catch the Wind." But this time I was actually part of the programme! Under the direction of Margaret Stowe, I took part in the Memories of Jackie Washington tribute.
I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. It was a bit stressful, imagining myself up on stage flanked by professional musicians who do this for a living, but I did it. Accompanied by my good friend Sylvia we arrived at the stage a few minutes early. There was some confusion about which stage we would be at, but when Marg Stowe arrived, and then Cathy Powell, we knew we had founf the right one. Marg set up guitars and mics, and the other performers started arriving. Hamilton poet James Strecker, who read from his biography of Jackie; local bluesman Alfie Smith; Toronto bluesman Brian Blain; songster Paul Langille and more all came to pay tribute to Jackie.
I brought along some lyrics of songs that Jack had recorded over the years, for volunteers to read. I set the bar by doing Bert Williams "Nobody". A couple of others took up the challenge. Some folk from the audience told stories of their experiences with Dr. Washington. The 'band' played on!
Cathy Powell told her story of the man who had been her friend for almost a lifetime. Then I was called back to sing Colin Linden's tune "Jackie Washington". After that it was a reading of "We'll Meet Again" and the tribute came to an end.
The day was humid, with only a slight breeze to cool us off. But the feeling was warm and mellow, and so filled with love that nobody cared about the weather.
A splendid time was had by all.