This is Bonnie Paine. I'm now her biggest fan.
She is lead vocalist in a Colorado band called Elephant Revival. Bonnie also bangs on a washboard. And get this, she plugs it into an amp! Have you ever seen anyone play a saw? She sits on a stool, and with a bow, slides it back and forth on the saw creating the sound of a sweet shooting star, a soft whistle fading off into the night.
There's a music scene in Colorado, a gathering of skilled and talented musicians who play folk and bluegrass. Mountain music, that stirs something in me like no other music does. It's lively, true and sweet. I'm a hillbilly at heart, and the sound of a banjo makes me smile and I'm immediately transported to a front porch in the Appalachians, tapping my toes, shuffling my feet, clogging from here to there. It makes me think of my mother dancing in our kitchen. It reminds me of when I was growing up, and my dad would play songs like Shady Grove or Big Rock Candy Mountain on his banjo, filling our house with the twang and clink of steel finger picks against the strings.
We had tickets to see the one and only Gregory Alan Isakov in concert in Fort Collins on Saturday night. He's one of the best singer-songwriter's around. A wandering poet in his newsboy cap who sings old timey songs that bring tears to my eyes. Then there's Jeb, his fiddle player who will keep you in a trance with his finesse and energy.
What a nice surprise when we see his friend Bonnie take the stage. A dark haired angel, shy and gracious, wearing long johns under her pretty blue hillbilly dress. And then the best part, we watch her plug in her washboard. I think to myself, 'this is gonna be good!' She wears leather driving gloves with steel banjo picks sewn onto them as she runs her hands up and down the wavy metal ridges of the board, the sound is gypsy-like, a tambourine shaking sound of a hundred silver bangles.
We're home now and I've been playing Isakov's album, The Weatherman, over and over again. I've listened to these songs many times before, but now I hear Bonnie brushing her washboard and that musical saw sounds familiar, like a Pine Warbler in the mountain towns of Colorado.
If anyone knows where I can find a used washboard, I'd appreciate it kindly.