Roundup of Gratitude 2022

It is Sunday morning, one week since the Holland Roundup.  At this time of dawn last Sunday, I was walking as fast as I could, throwing white oak firewood into my truck, along with the last-minute thoughts, while my new German shepherd puppy watched from a secure spot on the ground below my door of the truck.  This morning, before the sun rises, I sit here at my writing table, behind the closed curtains of the epic show that is the Holland Roundup.  It is always a struggle to want to reflect and write down something when it is all over.  In fact, I do not think I was even able to do it last year, but a thought kept coming into my head from a conversation I had, during the event, with Mason Alexander about his stunning performance.  He said unquote that he hoped he did not ramble too much introducing his songs, but he felt like all Art needs a context, a brief explanation, in order to have its full impact.  The Roundup is my biggest art piece of the year.  For a full month (the first year it was 2 months), I put all my creative energy and constant thought to develop the event.  All my winter preparations so necessary for our simple, rustic existence on the mountain gets put on hold.  It truly is an amazing excuse for procrastination and pushing the limits of scraping together a living, but as much as I resist it, I would not have it any other way.  I know it is a special honor to lead this wonderful, one day experience.  Its effects linger all winter and brew excitement all summer!  As I get older and wiser (not quite 50 yet) and continue to evolve in my sobriety (2 ½ years and going strong), my purpose seems to have found me, more like cornered me, and said the only way out of here is Up!  Rising up even if only for one memorable day is what the Roundup means to me, and I hope, actually I know, others could feel this because I saw it for myself.  It is that special energy, in conversation, in the reflection of everyone who was there, that says Wow! This is a beautiful day, and we live in a beautiful place; And we are all connected and gathered at this historic place.

            I want to first thank my family for putting up with me.  If you only knew how intense, demanding, and unwavering I can be to achieve my visions, you would understand that they, and especially their leader, my wife Cindy, are the true manifestors.  They take my Whim of Iron (another Slaid Cleaves song) and forge it into shape, step by step, into the wonderful presentation of food etcetera and the delightful symphony that you all become part of for one day, and then they clean it all up while I get to walk around, enjoy bonding with the musicians and walking in the Limelight!  It is always a super human effort to do all the little things, to keep commitments, and persevere through difficulties and failures to pull it off.  I most importantly want them and you all to know I could never do such a thing without them and their, albeit hard fought for, belief in me and my ideas.  Thank you Great Spirit in them and in me and in everyone that came to see!

            I want to thank the creative spirits of all the performers who brought their amazingness here.  Every single one was special.  I now know first-hand how much hard work, how much strength and confidence and special energy it takes to ride the wave of a performance.  Thank you for being there for my first effort at one (special thanks to John Nolan for a great lesson), and I am so glad I struggled through the original Roundup song, and then came back with my “Bros for Life Backup Band of Sunrise and Jordan” to sing my new Roundup song, Blowin’ in the Wind, written in a stream of consciousness and sung straight out of my heart.  J you delivered, then kept delivering as we scrambled to replace an unexpected absence in the lineup.  It was meant to be for people to hear your great voice.  May you continue your rise as a singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist for a gem of a local band, The Fountainhead.  Scott, you let people into your world of songs, your quiet pensiveness put out there for all, and especially the other songwriters, to appreciate.  I am hopeful to see you write more songs about this time and place and collaborate and share your talents with other musicians.  You are a natural songwriter.  A lesson for us all in humbleness and diligence.  Sunrise, you are a staple of music of our valley.  A truly “meant to be there” performer for this Roundup of 2022.  Your professionalism combined with your steady compassion filled in a space that was waiting for you and apparently for me as well.  I will always be grateful for your willingness to take my far-fetched idea of rewriting and singing a brand-new song and making it happen on stage so casually.  You are a true professional.  Mason, you blew everyone away.  You were the thunderstorm on a fiddle that this dried up valley was waiting for all summer’s end.  I was so glad for your appreciation of the event and our place and people here.  You are a super special musician and person, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.  Statement, you delivered as promised.  You took the Roundup to a whole new, hip hop level.  Your positive messages, your stories of time and place are the things that keep this community alive! Rosie, you are a high-class Rocker, soulful singer, and grand performer.  Your happiness and place on the boardwalk of Holland were meant to be.  You are a classic and your band is top notch.  Adam your piano playing rivaled the extraordinary fiddling by Mason.  They belonged together on the special day of celebration.  All day and evening long, your brilliant sound production was crystal clear, well-tuned, constantly perfected.  You made all the musicians sound magical and feel welcomed and cared for.  Your performance as sound man and stage conductor was flawless.  And finally, The Fountainhead, led by a special songstress, beautiful singer whose atmospheric voice lingered through the fading light and howled in the darkness for what seemed an eternity.  You added a 4th dimension to the evening and closed the music with class and a soothing finish that will last in my mind until next year.  Your place as the quiet queen of the boundary-pushing sound of The Fountainhead is as subtle as it is powerful.

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