A regular feature of the over 55 campground resorts we've enjoyed in the winter has been live entertainment. It's always great fun to walk to the clubhouse and sit close to the entertainer, never having to worry about where the venue is or where to park once we find it. In Florida there are few campground resorts, but those that we've found featured performers who also entertained on the cruise ships that ply the Caribbean. In Texas many of the performers come south from Branson MO and are extremely affordable. There are at least twenty campground resorts within a forty mile stretch of the Rio Grande Valley and you can find a show to attend every night of the week for $5 - $7.
We wondered where the performers here would come from since there is no obvious source and there have been fewer shows here than in Texas. The unifying force here is the National Performing Artists consortium. This management group attracts all sorts of entertainers that are quite talented, but not of the caliber you would expect to see in Las Vegas or New York. You never quite know what you are going to get. Many of the performers come from the western US, but the first group we saw came from our home town Chicago. They sounded as happy to be here as we are. Their gimmick was that they were a group of three guys who played thirty instruments throughout the course of the evening. They played the music of our youth using prerecorded augmentation. We never were sure if some of instruments we could hear came from them or Memorex.
Next we saw a young man old enough to be our grandson who was madly in love with the music of the 1920's - 40's. He was classically trained at a music academy in Portland, OR and was told that he needed to be an expert in two instruments before he graduated. During the concert he managed to combine his two instruments - keyboard and a trumpet - in an amazing ways, sometimes accompanying himself on the trumpet playing the keyboard with his left hand.
Last night we heard a country and western singer who sounded like he came from Nashville instead of the small farming town in Manitoba where he fell in love with C & W. We aren't country music fans, but enjoyed the stories he told about the circumstances that motivated him to write the songs he performed. We hear that a ventriloquist will be next.
Today for a change of pace we headed to the historic Rogue Theatre in downtown Tucson to attend a performance of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. Rave reviews in the newspaper brought us there and we had to agree. Stoppard is a renowned playwright and the plot device was thought provoking. Half of the play took place in the 1800's and the other half took place in the same room in a stately home today. The current characters were trying to figure out what had happened at the home during the earlier times. We knew what had really happened and could see the errors in their reasoning as they drew many false conclusions. It really made me wonder how much of the history we think we know is really true or just based on erroneous supposition and conjecture. Stoppard's language is dense and packed with all sorts of literary allusions. It would have been a wise strategy to read the play before we saw it. It felt good to have my brain stretched and challenged.