Serena Ryder, Thunder Mountain Tour Train Concert June, 2009
Juno-award winning artist Serena Ryder came to visit Boise once again, but this time...we put her on a train! Our first concert of this kind, over 400 listeners joined in on the fun during a beautiful, summer Sunday on the Payette.
Rafters and kayakers waved. Cold drinks were sipped outside. Friends caught up with each other and enjoyed brews, wine, and pretzels on the train.
I shared a table with some friends, and a new friend I met named "BJ." This woman had to have been around 85, here from California and traveling by herself. She was a tough cookie! She sadly shared with me how her daughter is terminally ill, so BJ is only in Idaho until her daugher is no longer alive. Some of her daughter's friends suggested she take the tour train to get her mind off things. BJ told me she did her internet research, YouTube's Serena's music and bought the tickets to our concert. She also VERY quietly whispered to me that she sometimes listens to Rush Limbaugh. I told her this train was for everyone, and nobody's got any politics at this concert so she'd be fine.
There were so many stories in the deep lines on her face.
She wandered from car to car, and made friends swapping stories with many strangers. The last I spoke to her, she looked deep into the river and said, "I'm gonna put my raft in there. I got one in the back of my car, ya know..."
Our train clanked along the tracks about 15 mph, with beautiful scenery and friends running into friends as they walked from car to car. We arrived to a picnic area next to the tracks near a cabin, where people lined up for a bbq that smelled amazing from the train. The fresh fruit, ice cream and cold water were a welcomed sight on this sunny afternoon. Serena took the stage and people gathered mostly behind in the shade of the trees on the bank.
The sound cut out at one point for just seconds, we all scurried around looking for the problem and found that one listener had finished his meal and layed flat right over an important power cord and unplugged it. Serena just kept singing, which is awesome since I was recording the show from 2 sources and one of them didn't miss a note. We duct-taped the cord to a rock, and he layed right back down on it but everything went fine after that.
Serena's music was great, and people sang, danced, and got up close for photos. She signed autographs and nearly all of the River air staff crawled into the cooled "green" train where Serena and her band were staying. We collapsed with some cold drinks and revisited the day and how we could make things even better next time. Serena sat next to me on the couch and asked how I was doing, she'd remembered our interview 5 months ago. She's such a friendly face, completely non-pretentious and happily sharing swigs of her Kombucha mushroom health tea with us. It was a warm day, but we were bombarded with "WHEN is the next one?!" Serena played for free, $35 for this entire day including train ride, food, and concert... was pretty amazing.
Here is Serena performing her song "Sweeping the Ashes." She is funny, make sure you listen to the end.