November 20,2021- The four ladies were alternately jumping, twirling and swaying, with the energy of twenty-year-olds, though they were closer in age to yours truly. All the while, they kept their COVID masks securely on their faces. This was for the duration of a 40-minute set by local artist Jonathan Best, and his troupe of blues and funk musicians. Half of it was a funk rendition of “Blowin’ In The Wind”, which I think Bob Dylan would thoroughly enjoy. The other 20 minutes was devoted to Sly Stone’s “Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself”.
I was given an egg castanet, which is about what you would expect-a mini-Easter egg shaped rattle, for the purpose of joining in the festivities. Jonathan goes full-on, bringing his audience into the fray. Whilst dutifully shaking the instrument, I felt as if I was watching a band of dervishes, even when three of the women took off their masks. The fourth, in addition to wanting to guard against COVID, also didn’t want men to see her face, and so kept tugging her mask against her nose. To me, it is six or a half dozen, whether I see a person’s visage or not. The show was the thing. It was all just a great way to spend a couple of hours on a mild Saturday night.
The Raven is the sort of place where patrons, and the bartenders, help the lone server clear tables, when she is overloaded with delivering food. This discomfits the standard dining patron, but for me, and several others, it is second nature. We are more like family, than “us and them”. I kind of like it that way.
That is part and parcel of living in a fairly mellow town. There are those who see everything through an ideological lens, but their influence here is diluted by the culture of broad acceptance. A patron who tried to push the envelope with “Let’s Go, Brandon” ,(poor Mr. Brown, he just wants to race his stock car), was brought into the festivities by being given a larger castanet. Jonathan is a progressive, but ideology is left at the cafe door, when he is set to perform. He knows that conservatives and reactionaries love a good, lively performance as much as anyone else-and so we all rock out together.
The days before Thanksgiving are a great time for such in-gathering.