Saturday, March 21, 2009

At the Emma Chase Cafe

The Chase County Courthouse dominates the tiny town of Cottonwood Falls--like an ornate wedding cake at the top of Main Street. Last night however, the excitement was inside the Emma Chase Cafe (below, right is Sue who owns the cafe, and on occasion, appears as Emma Chase). We could barely find a seat. My friend, Sue Ann Seel, that banjo -picking girl, invited me to join her for the weekly jam session. Last night happened to be gospel night, which might have promised a sedate evening's entertainment.


The first song was "I want to be a cowboy," just to get the crowd in the mood. Then there were rousing renditions of the Hank Williams classic, "I saw the light," then, "I'll fly away," and "Do Lord,"and "When the saints come marching in." There were softer tunes, like the one newcomer from Wichita, Clarence, performed, "Let the harvest go to seed.

It was the closest event to being home at the Willis Gap Community Center on Saturday night that I've ever found in Kansas.

Nothing goes with good traditional music like good traditional food--fried catfish, chicken fried steak, cherry pie, peach pie, rhubarb pie. As people came and went, there was barely an empty seat to be found at any given time.

Speaking of seats, next to me was a young family--a couple with a darling little girl. He is a professor of anthropology at Wichita State University and hails from Hamburg, Germany. Needless to say, this was his first visit to Cottonwood Falls. His lovely wife (left) was Turkish. Emma gave them a jar of apple butter for coming the furthest to the event. (Even though technically they just drove up from Wichita.)

Okay, so near the end of the show I could hardly stand it anymore and I asked if it would be acceptable to dance even though they were playing gospel. This gentleman, Dan Force (left), replied with a hearty "yes!" So I know I look a little bedraggled but I had danced up a storm!

On the way back up the road, Sue and I tried to carry on a conversation, but I we had some mind-blowing bluegrass CDs and every time we got into a deep conversation, a really hot song came on and we would say, "Oooh, wait! listen to this!"

I can hardly wait for the next jam session.


Leslie Shelor said...

I was just thinking about how much like home this sounds when you mentioned Willis gap!

Sue Ann Seel said...

we had a ball didn't we? Love the article!