Just about one year ago, I had the pleasure of being in the audience of a charming folk singer, Elizabeth Mitchell. Let me tell you how it all went down.
It all started with a simple contest on Facebook. I had read through my newsfeed of friends and “liked” public pages on Facebook and happened to see a post by Family Magazine of Washington, D.C. They were running a contest that invited its readers to answer a simple question: “Tell us why you love Wolf Trap!” to try to win tickets to see a family show at Wolf Trap Children’s Theatre-in-the-woods program.
I immediately submitted my best reply to Family Magazine and was so surprised to find out that I had won! I scored a family 4-pack of tickets to see a show at Wolf Trap for July 5th last year. It was to go see Elizabeth Mitchell and her band, You Are My Flower.
July 5th came around and my family of four traveled to Vienna, Virginia to see this live show. We had been to Wolf Trap many times, but this was our first experience attending a show at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods. It is a quiet, rustic space that is literally nestled in the woods. The small, quaint theater is surrounded by tall, lush trees and tree stumps, along with occasional squirrel passersby, coming face to face with a cascading tier of seats for the audience.
I had never heard of Elizabeth Mitchell before and by gosh, the last time we went to see a live show was five years ago, to see the Wiggles performing at Hershey Park with my oldest daughter, who was two at the time. So, not having participated in a live show in so long, I was predisposed with excitement and mounting enthusiasm to see this great performance. I knew I was in for a rollicking good time.
The show did not disappoint…
Elizabeth Mitchell, Folk Singer
Elizabeth Mitchell came out on the stage wearing a permanent smile that was brimming with sincerity and excitement about playing this venue. A pleasant woman who appears to be in her mid-30s, Elizabeth wore a peasant blouse with a flowing skirt to match her long, blonde flowing hair whose top part was swept to the side in a polite braid.
Elizabeth’s appearance, demeanor, and humble attitude reminded me so much of a unique mix between the 70s Magic Garden singers and the Monkees’ Peter Tork, who started his career playing folk music with his banjo. Elizabeth’s band is called “You are My Flower,” which is an appropriate label for this feel-good, G-rated, earthy, family-friendly band.
You are My Flower consists of a male guitarist, who I later learned is Elizabeth’s husband, a woman on violin, a male drummer, and the coolest “applelele” you’ve ever seen in your life. The Applelele, or perhaps the Apple Lady (not sure), is Elizabeth’s daughter, Storey. I would hope the term is applelele because it brings with it thoughts of the ukulele. In any event, 12 year-old Storey plays a quirky guitar shaped like the inside of an apple cut in half, exposing its inner seeds.
Woody Guthrie, Unplugged, & Applelele
Elizabeth talked briefly in-between her songs, giving out some interesting history about her songs to the hungry crowd of babies, children, moms, dads, and grandparents who wanted more and more songs. I was quite intrigued when Elizabeth spoke about her musical influences. She told the audience that her latest album was a tribute to the late Woody Guthrie, the famed country and folk singer who sang “This is Your Land.” The tribute album to Woody, noted Elizabeth, was done as a way to commemorate what would have been Guthrie’s 100th birthday in 2012.
Admittedly, I did not recognize most of the songs, but despite a lack of familiarity, I thought they were all nicely played. he sound had an intimate, unplugged feel to it, reminiscent of the famous MTV series Unplugged which apparently continues strong today, even years after Nirvana wowed us all with strong acoustics. Storey also stole the show a few times, gracing us with her sweetly timid singing voice on “Si, Señora” and blowing us away with a solid control of her lungs through some rambunctious harmonica blowing.
In many of the songs, Elizabeth invited audience members to do simple hand motions and follow along if we knew the lyrics. I only recognized a few songs since they were cover versions of other songs I had heard before. I enjoyed the melodies between Elizabeth and her husband Dan, as Elizabeth tends to sing on higher notes and Dan sings with a low voice. The violin was a nice touch.
The thing that impressed me the most, besides the awesome Applelele, was Elizabeth’s subtle instrumentals on her box. Elizabeth stood near an elongated box that was probably around 2.5 feet long and 2 feet tall. It was made out of wood and was shiny and beautifully polished. The box appeared to have some type of buckles or closures, looking like luggage.
Elizabeth opened the side door of the box and closed it, all without missing a beat. The sound coming out of this box was so subtle, you wouldn’t even know it was there. I have no idea what kind of instrument that was, but it sure was interesting to look at.
It was a fast hour filled with melodic songs and plenty of audience participation. At one point, Elizabeth invited the children to form one long train and wander around the woods and the audience, led by a brave adult. My then 17 month-old enjoyed the music as best as she could with my husband nearby to catch her wandering ways. All in all, it was a wonderful time spent enjoying the live show with my family.
New Experiences for My Family
I have great thanks to give to Family Magazine for having sponsored this cool Facebook contest and for awarding me with the prize of tickets to see Elizabeth Mitchell. I loved the show! I’m also grateful for this opportunity because it presented our family with a new music genre that we had not heard live before –folk music.
The history of Elizabeth Mitchell and her rise to fame is a nice success story. Her roots are in elementary education as a teacher’s assistant in the state of New York. Music came upon her by chance, and she was hooked. Please read more about Elizabeth at her website.
It is in these musical and educational experiences that I most strongly feel the rewards of having a broad, open mind of learning new things and exposing my children to great new things on the horizon. If you have had similar new experiences with your children and would like to share them with me, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.