Llyn French

Llyn playing with and George Johnson in the garden June 1966

Folksong Festival Incidents: Beaux Arts Gallery and Coffeehouse, written 2/27/1966

The motley group of us, known and unknown, was milling in the garden when it began to rain in earnest. We moved inside the ancient house, leaving the chairs where they sat. Those with tape recorders and instruments scurried to the banging screen door as best they could in the crowd.

The stage room filled rapidly with damp bodies situating themselves closely around the stage, until some were forced to stand behind the immovable bench at the back --- a full house, all right. Tom loved a full house. I did my short set then, to pass time until the group-picture-taking was completed in the movie room.

When the legendary fur-covered face appeared near the coffee stand, I scrambled down to take refuge in the anonymity of a corner. Old Eric --- an "old" 35 at most --- took over the stage, "screwdriver" and guitar in hand. Mitch would play lead.

It was raining harder now, and the drenched green jungle outside was close and pungent through the screens, turning the light inside to a misty lime. Eric 's daughters and friends sat around his sandaled feet. An enormous black dog ambled over legs and arms to stretch himself along the muddy floor beside them. The youngest, armed with only a rag to combat her kindergarten boredom, polished her sneakers and then Eric's bare toes. One of the others sat mysteriously blanketed and statue-like on a side table as Eric sang his own gulf coast blues.

An untrespassable silence permeated the coffeehouse. The only sounds were Eric's honey voice, the ring of guitars, and the intermittent chuckles that rippled through the smoky room and out the low windows into the freshened air. The rain dripped through the roof, splashing out of the coffee cups set to catch it on the puddled floor.

Eric, eyes closed, swayed languidly:

"Please stick to rum
Make the sunshine come
You wanna see me sunny
Honey, just allow me some."

And the rain continued on into the dusk.

---Llyn French (Lynn Horner, Pinellas Park, FL, 2/27/1966)