June 16, 2011 —
Those memorable lyrics, written by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne- for the Broadway classic “Funny Girl,” ran through my head during the past week as I made my way through the thunderstorms soaking the region – as always, in search of adventure.
I had to choose a parade, since I was overbooked (with two different cavalcades set for the same weekend) and decided on the Livingston Manor annual Trout Parade, which promised to be even bigger and more of a splash than ever before. Yes, there was precipitation in the forecast but no one can tell me to “just sit and putter,” so off I went, knowing full well what a “rain or shine” event means here in the Delaware River Valley.
Sure enough, it drizzled, misted and even sprinkled, but not enough to dampen the spirits of the fans who braved the clouds for this yearly event—which, as advertised, was even bigger and better than last year. Several bands (“I simply gotta march, my heart’s a drummer!”) joined the Mountain Tones, loads of floats and the ever-impressive giant puppets (www.catskillpuppettheater.com ) as scores of families, clowns, antique cars and equestrians appeared out of the fog in time to make the day a rousing success. There were food booths (“I’ve gotta have my bite, sir”) saluting all things fishy and entertainment galore, including the harmonious “Johnny Darling Frolic,” which bears further study, since their name is derived from Catskill folklore.
Although “life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter,” there were still clouds on the horizon as I packed my things for a trip to Bethel Woods (www.bethelwoodscenter.org ) to take part in the “Music & Astronomy Under the Stars” (MAUS) program, which tours different venues, this time around as prelude to an evening with iconic rock band “Deep Purple.” Astronomy buffs, including several members of a local group (www.rocklandastronomy.com ) were out in full force with their telescopes and expertise on stargazing.
Prepared to share and give scope access to anyone (before, during and after the show), there was (sadly) a lot of rain on their parade. The equipment these astronomers had provided is far too delicate and expensive to be drenched, so that aspect of the evening, unfortunately, was benched. I’m fascinated by the nighttime sky (especially here in the glorious Catskills) and plan to make a trip to this club in the near future, since this time out there was a “freckle on the nose of life’s complexion.”
“I’ll march my band out,” rang in my head as rock fans began wading through the pavilion, in anticipation of “Deep Purple” (www.deeppurple.com ), now in its third decade of rockin’ the house. The storm the night before had wreaked havoc with the lawn seating (if someone takes a spill, it’s me and not you) but the center made sure all ticket holders were accommodated. Opening act “Ernie and the Automatics” (www.ernieandtheautomat 
ics.com) hit the stage, sounding great and warming up the crowd for the main attraction.
Comprised of several former members of the now-defunct band “Boston,” the Automatics (Michael Antunes, Tim Archibald, Ernie Boch Jr., Barry Goudreau, Sib Hashian and Brian Maes) made the most of their “turn at bat” and most certainly, “didn’t fake it.” Following a brief intermission, Deep Purple made me realize that “I’m gonna live and live now!” as I threw caution to the (rather intense) wind and rocked out with the best of them in the dry pavilion.
Lead vocalist Ian Gillian sounded amazing (after all these years) and was matched, note for note, by fellow band mates Don Airey, Roger Glover, Steve Morse and Ian (“I’ll beat my drum”) Paices—not to mention the 27-piece orchestra that accompanied them. With “one shot, one (rim) shot and bang!,” Deep Purple proved beyond a doubt, that a band can “only die once, sir” and (IMHO) this group is still prepared to give the audience “one roll for the whole shebang” as they tour the country very much alive and kicking.
Building to their best known anthem, “Smoke on the Water,” Deep Purple clearly had their “eye on the target” and the crowd went wild as they performed with an electric energy that had the group once dubbed “the loudest rock band in the world.” The incredible acoustics at Bethel Woods were showcased by the band’s expertise and experience (possibly a bit mellowed over the years), so my ear drums were not injured during the show. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to experience Deep Purple and prove that (along with thousands of die-hard fans) “nobody, no nobody, is gonna rain on my parade.”