Knight: Rainy tunes at the farmers market

We normally start our Bargersville Farmers Market gig at 5 p.m., but were late because of the unpredictable weather: ominous dark gray sky one minute; cloud breaking blue sky and bright sunlight the next. It was iffy whether this particular Wednesday’s market would even happen, but the vendors were lined up ready to go, and when the organizers decided to take a chance, they moved in to set up shop. People smiled greetings to each other as they unloaded products and hoisted canopies.

Retro Dan and I like to think of the Retro Brothers as one of the vendors at the market.

We are not performing for an audience so much as acting as a kind of jukebox, providing pleasant (hopefully) background sounds for those strolling the corridor of tents and canopies filled with fresh produce and various crafts.

During our second song, the rain started. It came down hard and fast. (I thought later we should have started playing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain.”)

We had to act. Our speakers won’t fit under our canopy, so we place them out and away from us. Not only were the speakers getting drenched, but the lava lamps sitting on top of them were as well. (Lava lamps are part of our brand, as they say.)

The rain was striking at such an angle that even under the canopy our guitars were getting wet. A musician’s instrument, especially a wooden one, requires special care and concern, so after we finished the song Retro Dan unplugged his guitar. I did the same.

It was worrisome enough that guitars, mic stands, equipment cases, and other support materials were getting soaked, but the electrical devices under the canopy, amplifiers and powered monitor speakers, also were dripping wet. We are not electrical experts but know that electricity doesn’t mix well with water. As we were wiping down our guitars, we were unplugging any device connected to an outlet. Then we raced out to rescue the speakers and lava lamps. We were simultaneously trying to protect equipment from direct rain and unplugging things—even a simple duo has much to disconnect. We were spread thin, multitasking. As the Beatles observed: “If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads…”

And then, as unexpectedly as it started, the rain began tapering off. Then it stopped.

Even during the downpour a few people continued browsing the stalls. A woman walked up to put something in our tip basket, but after she looked in, she handed the bills directly to us. The basket was filled with maybe a half-inch of water. “Thank you,” we both said.

It’s the rainy season, I guess. The week before we had managed a couple of sets before the rain came. This week we managed just two songs before the showers came down. It’s not like we didn’t try to meet our obligations. We always look forward to playing, but the equipment is an integral part of what we do, and it needed to dry out. We decided to give it a rest. Everyone understood.

That’s the thing about the people involved with the Bargersville Farmers Market. From Marty and Rowana Umbarger, who organize and keep the market going to the people who grow, sew, craft, cook, construct, create and then sit waiting and smiling as the browsers and shoppers wander by, Farmers Market People are a happy and easygoing bunch. I have found this attitude holds true at most farmers markets. They put themselves out there. They can give you many reasons why they do what they do, but I think at least one reason is because they enjoy producing something and sharing it with others.

It’s true. Farmers markets, even the occasional rainy events, are one of the good things in life.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]