Monday, September 8, 2014
Blues on the Bridge was held again yesterday, on a beautiful late summer Sunday. This is the 13th year this festival has been held in downtown Binghamton, New York. There always seems to be a special story surrounding it.
September 25, 2011. Still recovering from massive flooding two weeks earlier (generators were needed to power the electrical instruments), downtown Binghamton threw a party for itself. Even floods could not destroy what had become a Sunday after Labor Day tradition.
This year's Blues had a special story I didn't learn about until today. I'll tell it a little later.
South Washington Street Bridge. But the festival, free and open to the public thanks to sponsors and donations, long ago outgrew that bridge.
Near to the concert, two rivers, the Chenango and the Susquehanna, converge. This picture was taken from the South Washington Street Bridge. Hard to believe a small city downtown is just a few feet away from this natural beauty.
There are some couples that show up at some of the free music festivals and dance near the stage. Some appear year after year. This year, we saw a new couple. The woman had a beautiful head of silver hair. She danced with an elderly man, coming close and coming apart. When they came apart, though, it seemed like the man was lost. He just stood there, shuffling their feet.
I read their story today. This couple, married 53 years, dance several times a week. Interviewed for our local paper, I find out why they dance.
Her husband has Alzheimer's. They dance so he can remain active.
“We need more of this,” the woman said of the festival. “To bring the people together. Because when you’re in a group like this, everybody talks to everybody, they say hello to everybody else.”
Binghamton may seem like a beautiful place in these photos. It can be in places, but it also has a lot of problems not uncommon to "rust belt" cities. High unemployment. Lots of vacant buildings. I don't like to dwell on the negatives in this blog, though, because there are also so many positives about the Binghamton area.
For one afternoon, those problems were forgotten by thousands of people, all dancing, eating, rocking out, and just having a good time listening to music ranging from blues to Americana to classic rock.
And the loving couple danced on.