honest songs, honestly sung
singer and songwriter ben bruce

blog > Here's to First Times!

Apr 11th, 2011
Volume 9, Issue 3

Wow, what a weekend in Winthrop! It was a weekend of firsts.

It was my first time playing a gig in Winthrop — a great crowd of people who were happy (it felt) to listen. I played at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery, where I met Stephanie (who booked me), Evan Ruud (welcoming bear of a man, and brother to the brewer), Casey (our server and promulgator of Laws), and other folks from town. The OSB has top-​notch beer and food (my pulled pork sandwich, as required by the law1, was cold by the time I got to eat it, and it was still tasty; the IPA was so good I just stuck with that all night).

Stephanie provided me with another first when she pointed to a pile of equipment and said, “We inherited this PA system and don’t know how to set it up, so hopefully you do.” Well, I didn’t, but I (think I) kept a straight face and said, “We’ll get it worked out.” With an assist from my son, and another from my wife, we got my first PA set up and running smoothly (actually, with one more assist from a guy in the crowd, who suggested I let him raise the amps off the floor).

I played Fitzwalter’s Lace for the first time. This is an interesting song because I remember the exact moment it came to me2. It’s taken me many years to get it written, though, so my rendition of it at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery on Friday night was the culmination of many years of songwriting.

It was the first time I’ve stayed at the River’s Edge Resort in Winthrop. I came down with my first case of Hot-​tubalitis (unfortunately, my son came down with the same illness), and we saw our first marmots3, which lived across the river in a rock pile about halfway up the ravine.

It was the first time I’ve ever been the subject of a “sighting.” We saw a family out and about, and the boy nudged his father and murmured something, and Dad explained, “We saw you at the Brewery last night.” I don’t think I handled myself very well because I was so pleased.

I think it’s because I got my first radio promotion from COZY FM.

It was my first time visiting the Lost River Winery. We got a private tour of the tasting room and the warehouse where they age their barrels, and I can attest to the care and attention these folks pay to their wine. It’s love in a bottle, so go buy one!

Speaking of which, let’s raise a toast. Here’s to many firsts! And to sunshine!

– Ben

1 Casey’s Law No. 11: “musicians don’t get to eat hot food.”

2 I was outside with some friends years ago and D. said, “What is this flower?” She was pointing to a little blue flower, and the lie rolled off my tongue: “Fitzwalter’s Lace.” As I said the words, the whole story of this song came to my mind.

3 Marmots are generally large ground squirrels and typically live in burrows (often within rockpiles). Hoary marmot (which species I think we were seeing) live near the tree line on slopes with grasses and forbs to eat and rocky areas for cover. It is the largest North American ground squirrel and is often nicknamed “the whistler” for its high-​pitched warning issued to alert other members of the colony to possible danger. The animals are sometimes called “whistle pigs.” Whistler, British Columbia, is named for these animals. The “hoary” in their name refers to the silver-​grey fur on their shoulders and upper back; the remainder of the upper parts are mainly covered in reddish brown fur. Uncle Paul said, “Marmots are a pain in the ass.”


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