A Fine Day at the Picnic

Mordy Ferber with Chris Symer & Greg Williamson

I had originally written this post as a last minute reminder for everyone to come out to the Pony Boy Jazz Picnic, which took place yesterday (Sunday). Due to a sizable snafu at my web host Go Daddy and the attendant loss of much data on my website, that post never saw the light of day as it were. I am rewriting and reposting now because I think that although the picnic is now behind us, the sentiments still ring true.

It was a wonderful day all around. The rains stayed away, and the skies even offered up little fissures of blue now and then. Of course, the jazz was fabulous and there was plenty of it: Greg Williamson and Dave Anderson Quartets, Mordy Ferber, Christopher Woitach, the All-Star Vocalists, the Usual Suspects, Trombonasarus Rex (one of my favorites) and many more great performances. There were lots of good friends around, and it was happy fun chatting with folks, catching up on their projects and seeing their kids run around. It was definitely a successful picnic once again and also a fun and satisfying afternoon.

Susan Pascal, Carolyn Caster & Cynthia Mullis

One of the things I really admire and respect about Pony Boy (and its fearless leader Greg Williamson) is the sense of community around the label. In addition to the picnic, Pony Boy is involved in various other musical events and situations around the region throughout the year. (Boxley’s, Hiroshi’s, etc.) If it’s a Pony Boy event, then the hang is always really fun and inclusive. Greg has a laid back and kindly demeanor, and whenever I drop into a Pony Boy performance, I feel really welcome. I love going out, listening to friends and label mates and supporting the scene. I feel grateful for opportunities to bask in the music I love so much with people who love it as much as I do. During breaks, there is always pleasant banter and jazz stories aplenty and often communion over great food. Such experiences, small as they may seem, serve to lift the spirit and affirm the soul

We live in troubled times and are hit with a daily barrage of bad news. Bringing people together is no small thing. We all know and understand the power of music to unify. However, sometimes it takes more work than that. The Pony Boy picnic feels like more than just an annual tradition to me; it is a big celebration of an ongoing and successful effort on behalf of Pony Boy to build and support a robust jazz scene and to nurture a strong community. Today, I send a big up to Pony Boy and a virtual high five to Greg Williamson not only for another fabulous picnic but also for keeping the music alive and for giving us all something to be a part of. Can I get an “Amen?”

Randy Halberstadt, Cara Francis & Kim Rushing