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A warm weekend day and the Sea-Blues Festival lures boomers out to play

There's something to be said for living in the gladness of the day.

Especially when it dawns while you're slathering on a second coat of sunscreen and watching the sailboats glide by as someone's singing the deep, throaty blues.

"Just another day in paradise."

How we have missed you.

Yes, the arthritis has been kicking up and the sciatica too, with the 2010 winter chill that has talking heads in a tizzy over the validity of global warming and a bunch of us reaching for the ibuprofen and our winter woolies. Again.

But then Saturday morning rolls around and you're offered a pocket of warmth that promises to be gone by sundown. That gets you and the old man thinking about dressing in layers and packing up some blankets so you can mosey on down to Clearwater to take in the Sea-Blues Festival. It's free, after all, except, maybe, for parking and the seafood.

So there you are, down by the glistening waterfront, smelling like coconut and lounging with your contemporaries in those sturdy new captain's chairs you bought for the extra back support.

You pass the time listening to soulful songs of pain and great guitar riffs while munching on shrimp and nursing a plastic cup of cheap red wine that will be chased with a couple of bottles of spring water — even though you know that will eventually lead to a rather precarious balancing act in a stench-filled port-a-potty.

Yes, the water chaser is a necessity these days. Down another cup of wine and you know you'll be nodding off well before the headliner takes the stage.

It's already nap time, I notice, for some of my contemporaries who are looking curiously old as wafting cigar smoke drifts by. We're a sea of bulging bellies and crowning baldness, with some of the more fortunate capped in shades of waning gray as they dance rather badly or sidle up to the bleached blonde or maybe the bottle-brunet counterpart that's sporting peek-a-boo salt and pepper roots.

Yup, that would be me. Like clock-work, six weeks passes and it's time to hit the hairdresser for a touch-up because somewhere along the line 50 became the new 30 and salt and pepper isn't really a distinguished look for women-folk.

So this is what we've become, a herky-jerky generation of boomers that grew up watching men walk on the moon. We learned early on that grown-ups cry as we witnessed our parents' grief over the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. Our wonder years were marked with civil rights protests and the Vietnam War; the evening news body bag count with Walter Cronkite and a muddy Woodstock. That peaceful rock 'n' roll rally prefaced a president's shameful resignation. A few years later some of us voted in our first presidential election, celebrated our first legal drink and protested a burgeoning music scene by stocking up on "Disco Sucks" T shirts.

Drove live music out of the local clubs, those DJs did.

What a shame.

All it took was a British invasion and a few passing decades before some of us realized that today's "classic rock" actually got its roots from the blues — a real American-made genre that was being honed in our time by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Etta James, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and B.B. King while we were digging Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

So here we are, a well-worn, AARP card-carrying generation that's fading fast on a glorious Saturday afternoon. Just chilling with the good old American blues and learning something, perhaps, of the value of living in the gladness of the day.

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@sptimes.com or at (727) 869-6251.

A warm weekend day and the Sea-Blues Festival lures boomers out to play 02/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 8:03pm]
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