It went like this:
On New Year's Eve my sister, Kristin, sent me an email from Alaska with the message: I love this tune. I think you will like it, too. Darlingside is a quartet of adorable boys who sang together at Williams. The email contained a link to a song called The God of Loss, with one of the most beautiful videos I have ever seen.
I found it to be captivating. I told Kristin this and she replied, "They're playing at Café Lena on January 15."
Café Lena is a music venue in Saratoga Springs, where we grew up. It was funny to me that my sister, 4,000 miles away, knew what was going down, musically, in my backyard.
That night I showed the video to my friends, Ben and Paul, whom I had had the great honor of marrying this past September. We welcomed the new year together, with a delicious Chinese meal prepared for us by Ben, whose food made with large hands and heart, always fills us with warmth and love and song.
We decided we would go see Darlingside at Café Lena on January 15.
It turned out the show was sold out.
So instead we went to see them on January 14 in Hudson, New York, about an hour and a half south of Albany. I drove to Saratoga and met the boys and their friend, Ron, a pastry chef, and, all together, we adventured to Hudson to see about this lovely quartet. We arrived just after dark and walked around in the cold, pressing our noses up against the windows of closed shops filled with funny and delightful things. We went into the Valley Variety, a store with a charming mix of beautiful objects, and talked with Guiseppe, the man working there, who was a musician and photographer. I bought a birthday gift for my brother. Because there were lots of cooking items in the shop, Ben and Ron salivated quite a bit. Ron bought two cookbooks.
There is nothing quite like watching a human who is deeply passionate about something, when he bumps up against that something out in the world.
The four of us stopped for Mexican hot chocolate. With the zeal of a child, Ron bought us all treats. We were warm, inside and out. We made our way to the Helsinki Hudson, a former bus depot, renovated to perfection into a restaurant and music venue. We sat and ate together. I had oyster stew. I had never had oyster stew before. The first band came to the stage. It was the DuPont Brothers, from Burlington, Vermont, a lovely surprise. I had heard about them for years, having lived near Burlington for a long time, but had never seen them play. How generous of them, I thought, to come to sing to me here tonight, so far from our Vermont homeland.
Darlingside came on and sang so sweetly and told stories and made us all laugh and fall in love with them. They opened with The God of Loss. They sing together, the four of them, on every song, gathered-in tight around their microphone, playing their various instruments: guitars and violin and mandolin. "I've never seen a band that seemed to so genuinely adore one another, " I said to the boys on the way home.
We drove back to Saratoga. It was late when we got home. I spent the night there, in Ben and Paul's cozy home, in the town where I grew up.
The next morning I made a stop on my way home. I went to see a friend of mine -- someone I had dated once and known since my childhood -- and his mother. Because I love them both, still, and because their step-father/husband had died a few months earlier and I wanted to acknowledge that loss. When I walked into Holly's kitchen she burst into tears and we hugged that endless hug. It was so good to see her. I pulled up a chair and we caught up on everything: stories about the kids and about Bill's passing and about rainbows appearing and life going on, even after great loss. We cried and laughed and hugged some more. And we promised we would see each other again soon.
I went to the cemetery to pay my respects to Bill and then I drove home, back to Vermont. "We will leave here without a trace," is what the Darlingside boys sing, and they're right. So while we're here, it's probably a good idea to really love each other and to eat together and to poke around new towns and to go see young men sing and to visit the graves of those who have left us and to go back and hug each other, even though pain and hard times can drive us apart.
Anyway, Kristin was right. I do love this tune. And I think you will like it, too. And with any luck you'll end up eating oyster stew in a whole new town, too.