The Mill: Friday night music is magical

February 1, 2014 in North America, Travelogue, United States


When I close my eyes time does not exist.

My little boys are curled up like puppies, asleep on beanbag chairs in the corner. They drifted off every Friday night, bellies full of ice cream and fudge, carried on laughter and lullabies to dreamland. Music floats between the rafters and drifts out over the rushing river behind The Mill. Then I blink, and my string bean teenagers are folded like pretzels on the available floor space and Hannah is peering out from beneath her elf hat with shining eyes, watching the left handed guitarist who’s effortlessly playing backwards, with his instrument strung upside down. She is enthralled.

We came every Friday or Saturday night for two years, from the week it opened in 2006 until the week before we pushed off on our bicycles for points unknown. It was the place we went for good ice cream andthe best fudge you’ve ever tasted; a quiet place to knit and to be known. It was one of our community touch points. We were the only people there with lots of little kids, but no one minded. It was a place I sometimes escaped to in the middle of the day to write in peace, or meet a friend for lunch. It is a place we’ve missed almost every Friday night for six years. It’s the first place we wanted to return when we found ourselves back in the same community, and when I placed a note on their Facebook page enquiring about time and schedule for Friday night, they remembered who we were.

The Back Room was packed with people we remembered and many we did not. Instrument cases were stacked on every flat surface: guitars of all varieties, mandolins, banjos, fiddles, an accordion and a dulcimer. Songs were played, voices raised, intangible gifts given. A pirate got up and played Tennessee Waltz on a steel guitar with a metal slide.

You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a pirate sing Tennessee Waltz. 

Hannah swore she was just going to watch, but she brought her fiddle anyway. She mounted the stage dead last, following a quiet song written by David, for his cat. “Well, I know you’re all feeling quiet and relaxed now,” she smiled, “but if you’d like to clap along, I’d love that!” And she proceeded to raise the roof with her fiddling.

A woman with curly hair smiled on her way out, “She’s really good! How long has she been playing?”

“Since she was six, her first public performance was here, actually,” I replied.

“Oh how nice… so this is a homecoming of sorts.”

And so it is.