Rick Fielding Plays Crop Circle Country Friday night, September 15th, Rick Fielding delivered an astounding performance at Orillia's fair grounds. The concert was a Mariposa Festival volunteer thank you party combined with an Orillia Folks Society monthly concert. One of the organizers, Ronda, told me that she had worried that the room might be too cold but Rick rapidly warmed up both the room and the audience.
He started out with a song about the Titanic. Waves of 12 string notes washed out over the audience. It was a warm wave that may have lifted the wreck a few feet off the Atlantic floor. No one ran for lifeboats. No one drowned. Instead folks started to sing along. Rick made everyone feel comfortable and happy, like we were all friends who had known him for years. We made up a fair size crowd and probably over ninety percent of us sang along to many of his songs. We even sang on the ones where we didn't have a clue about the words or the tune. Perhaps we shouldn't have but Rick's music, rhythms, enthusiasm and warmth were all highly contagious
Rick seemed to be enjoying himself too. He shared many stories about his childhood, his life (even his life as a drywaller) and his songs. He played song that we've known for years like San Francisco Bay Blues, tunes that only serious traditionalists would know and songs that he's written from a heart drenched with traditional music echoes.
Rick played amazing guitar. Members of the Orillia Folk Society who were sitting close to me hooted and hollered all night long. Mariposa people from Toronto and elsewhere were also struck with spontaneous outbursts. These flare-ups started before any of us had time to do any serious drinking, so it was from the heart, not from the bottle.
Rick was damn good. Each time he started one of his astonishing guitar techniques the audience would howl and roar. I loved that twelve-string sound that he gets. And what a range of styles and music - Travis picking, walking chords with bass and melody runs, rapidly changing chords patterns, rhythmic finger patterns on guitars and autoharp that you would only expect from a great drummer beating on her snare, wild arpeggios with fingerpicks and flatpicks. Even when he strummed Rick played intricate chord patterns like a boom on the bass followed by a chuga-chuga-chum on the high strings. Now we know why half the people in southern Ontario are taking guitar lessons at Fielding's or wish they were.