Day 3: Interlochen Writer’s Retreat

Mini-lectures on the craft of nonfiction. A fine poetry reading. A thrilling novel reading. A craft lecture on 3rd person narration. A rockin’ concert at Interlochen’s Kresge Auditorium, where I got to see Elvis Costello & the Imposters from 10th row seats (thank you, faculty discount!). What a truly rich and full day!
Costello had a gigantic song-wheel up on stage (maybe thirty feet tall) and these go-go dancer girls in platform shoes who grabbed people from the audience to spin the wheel, which determined what song would be played next. The band played for about two hours, effectively nonstop. For the last 40 minutes, 80% of the audience was on their feet, with perhaps 100 folks slammed up against the edge of the stage, bouncing and twitching to the beats.
It often takes permission through something transcendent like a poetry reading or a live concert for me to acknowledge the transition I’ve gone through. In the screaming darkness of the crowd, I think I finally realized that I am in Michigan. On East Coast Time. About to teach teenagers for 6 weeks (part time). And very, very far from the Wallowa Mountains. I already miss them, and their people. I left messages for a few pals this afternoon—telling Eric about how I got a new bike seat, telling S about the lack of wheat-free homebrews. I don’t know if they’ll call back or even if I’ll see them ever again.
But I reached out. I tried. As Walt Whitman wrote, I sent out “filament after filament.” This is what I do now. This is part of life on the road. And sitting their watching Costello’s entire body vibrate with his art, infusing the crowd of thousands—ten-year-olds to seventy-year-olds—I had to admit that the road life can be pretty good to some artists. That some people make a life of it forever, so that home becomes movement and movement becomes second nature. And so of course, when “Pump It Up” came belting over the speakers in that telltale, sandpaper, distinct voice of his, I had only one thing to do: get up and dance.
Showing 9 comments
  • blt

    very nice post; i would love to have seen elvis in those environs (i graduated from high school in kresge aud, 1981…)
    have a great summer and go to the beach in empire (down esch road i think)!

  • hexentafel

    I was one of those right up at the stage..It was an amazing experience! I wanted so badly to be pulled up on stage as I was his perfect setup, being that my name is Alison! I was right up there at the stage when he sang it. I can now cross seeing him perform it live off my bucket list, as well as rushing a stage! It was a fantastic concert. Very well put together.


  • Jonnie

    I was also up front trying to will myself on stage. Not just an excellent concert, but a memorable experience.

  • Ken in TC

    This was a great night THE BEST ELVIS SHOW I EVER SAW and I have seen many. We really enjoyed Elvis calling up my beautiful fiancee ELLEN/HELEN as the second wheel spinner. We were 2nd row right in front of the go-go cage. I ALSO loved the schtick and music with Elvis as Napoleon!! I have been introducing my fiancee to Elvis music, and I cover some of Elvis's genius in songwriting, but since Elvis danced with Ellen in the go go booth – I am sure another die hard fan was born!! The Georgia girls were great too, cant beat that really!! Will never forget last night, in a word INCREDIBLE, Interlochen is awesome….

  • Dub in Petoskey

    I was also one of the 100 dancing-like-crazy up by the stage. I have always wanted to see Elvis in concert…..last night lived up to all expectations! I have had a smile on my face all day despite my lack of sleep from attending mid-week concert. "Watching the Detectives" was wonderful!

  • Mary

    I will always call you back.

  • Anonymous

    Any pictures from the show?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Ken, I was directly in front of you – really cool moment for Ellen (or Helen as he calls her) and I hope you got most of that on video.

    Great show, and Elvis was far more of a thoroughly entertaining performer than I expected. I knew the music would be great, but the nonstop fun he brought in addition was a real treat.

  • Wesley Middleton

    Katey, I don't want to make too much of a big deal about this, but, um
    OK, he probably didn't put it there *personally* because he's kind of busy, but still.
    Also, I would like to commend you on this extremely thoughtful and well-written post.

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