Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Weekend, Day 3 - The Cats Are Back ...

At about 5:30 on Valentine's Day the Men in Black swept up to the front door of Nilgiris and started unloading their gear: guitar, amps, cords, and the tiny electric violin that comes to life under its master's touch.

They checked out the place; we adjusted a table or two; they pronounced it good. A brief sound check followed. Strong coffee was poured, and ribs - a couple of racks squirreled away for them from yesterday's dinner - were served. Guests started to arrive and chose where they'd like to sit. Linda and Henry sat close to the fireplace; Tricia and Aaron nestled down into the deep encompassing chairs we call The Hug.

BA poured pink lemonade punch for everyone as the Men went outside for a last-minute chat.

Jocelyn and Norma bustled about the kitchen, cutting fruit, grating cheese, tossing salad. When most of our guests had arrived, we started to serve dinner.

Chicken crêpes were accompanied by a cup of butternut squash soup and organic greens tossed with fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in a raspberry vinaigrette and finished with a sprinkle of feta cheese. As the last couples were served the music started, low and sweet.

Dave Hamilton, guitar; Karl Roth, violin and vocals

Karl and Dave were in the house.

Lewis & Dawn - the third time they've heard
Karl in the TH. The first time they've had to
drive from Stettler to do so ...
 Fingers of music reached out to every corner of the room, to every table, gently smoothing a furrowed brow, caressing the curve of a cheek, touching the corner of a mouth.  Couples moved a little closer, smiled a little more mysteriously, whispered secrets to each other. Kal and Sylvia gazed into each other's eyes in a way that brought a lump to my throat.

BA moved about quietly, filling tea pots and coffee cups, clearing plates. Norma washed fondue bowls. Josie started melting chocolate for the next course.

And I stole moments away from the busyness to prop in the entrance and let the music wash over me and once again allow myself to become bewitched by the magic of these two fine musicians.

Newlyweds Ruth & Dawson.
"It's my favourite time of the week,"
Dawson commented about coming to the TH.

They were particularly good tonight, with easy camaraderie between themselves and a real connection with their rapt audience. A few of the people this evening had heard Karl and Dave playing at the TH before; but for most of them, it was a brand new experience. The old songs danced across the strings and the first time Karl sang people looked at each other in delight.

Scott & Heather chose the romantic loveseat
in the corner. It was they who first got the
ball rolling to get Karl and Dave back for
a Valentine's Day special event 

After about an hour of playing the Men took a break, the lights were raised slightly and the all-important decision of what chocolate to choose - white, milk or dark - was presented to the tables.

As I recapped the first set in my mind, something struck me as odd. There was another musician in the audience and he was talking quietly while Karl and Dave played. Some artists of my acquaintance do this to let the performer know that the latter is not such hot stuff; this particular musician is not one of those artists. I had not much time to ponder this anomaly, however, as fondue plates had to be filled with luscious strawberries, seedless green and red grapes, miniature honey mandarins, gala apple wedges and banana coins. Toss on some cream puffs, shortbread and pretzel twists and the second set was ready to be served.

Our own Lois Lewis's parents, and two of our
TH favourites, Marlowe & Dorothy

I heard a snippet of Ain't Misbehavin' and dashed out to witness Karl at his most charmingly tongue-in-cheek. Soon World On A String teased its way into the room. At that moment he had the TH on a string and all its habitués wrapped around his little finger.

Dianna & Bob. Two treasured members of
Dad's Wednesday TH Bible study group,
and true jazz aficionados to boot! 

I looked around the room at all the happy, loving couples enjoying their Valentine's evening. I looked at Karl, one of my oldest friends from Calgary. I saw BA, Norma and Jocelyn, my capable and cheerful team who made this evening possible in the first place. My heart sang.

Beth and Chris.
Fairly new to the TH,
they've quickly made themselves
part of the Nilgiris family.

Miss Patsy and Sweet William.
The way that man looks at her sometimes!
It makes you go,
"Ohhhhhh - to have a love like that ..."

Finally Karl glanced over at Dave and said, "It's about that time ..."
"Yes," replied Dave. And softly he played the intro and Karl started to sing:

Rebecca and Mike. What an encouragement
she has been to me during a couple of
particularly low periods in my life ...

Here we are, out of cigarettes Holding hands and yawning -
Look how late it gets! -
Two sleepy people
by dawn's early light
But too much in love to say goodnight

Here we are in a cozy chair,
Pickin' on a wishbone
from the Frigidaire
Two sleepy people
with nothing to say
But too much in love to
break away

Ken and Bernadette: Was it almost two years
ago that you danced at your wedding
reception in this sweet place?!

 Do you remember the nights
we used to linger in the hall?
(To absolutely no one's surprise)
your father didn't like me at all
Do you remember the reason
we married in the fall?
To rent this little nest
and get a bit of rest

Murray and Jean - I have had the privilege
of playing a couple of times in church
with Murray, a proficient guitarist
in his own right

Well, here we are,
just about the same,
Foggy little fella, drowsy little dame
Two sleepy people
by dawn's early light,
And too much in love to say  Goodnight ... 
The town's cutest sisters-in-law,
arguing over the bill ...
Pat came to every event this weekend!

The crowning touch to an
unforgettable evening!

As people reluctantly started to get up and I took a few more pictures, the other musician in the audience urgently beckoned me over. "Please?" he said. And he put his arm around his sweetheart and held her hand in his - a hand freshly adorned with a sparkling diamond ring, which in no way came close to the sparkle in two sets of eyes as they smiled for the camera ... And then it became clear to me why Lewis had to speak when he did. Best wishes for the happiest of life together!

Peter with his vivacious wife Wendy - first-time visitors to the TH this Valentine's evening - commented as he prepared to leave: "I'm from Edmonton, and it's taken me coming to Three Hills and hearing these men tonight to realize that I should be taking advantage of the opportunity to listen to live music like this every weekend. Thank you."

Thank you, all of you, for a wonderful Valentine's evening. And thank you, Karl and Dave, for coming out from Calgary to scatter pixie dust over the whole TH for three magical hours.


  1. How pleased I was to read this blog - Not that I was rushing you, but I was worried that something had gone wrong. Sounds like a memorable evening -- particularly for Lewis and his betrothed. The TH is made of love, is run on love, and is for love.

  2. Kool Cats, those two! prrrrr . . .

    But K, you're the coolest cat of all in offering events that make trois lumps a cool place to be.


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