A Garage Sale Concert

Published on 05/19/23

David Vale. April 6, 2023

So we’re singing at garage sales now?

Well, not really. A group of about a dozen of us representing the Valley Voices sang at the Creston Auction last weekend. And while it had some of the trappings of a garage sale, it’s a garage sale in the same sense that dime-store glider and a passenger jet are airplanes.

We had a really good time and, I think, we were appreciated. Who could ask for anything more?

But let me back up. The Creston Auction is a bonafide Northwestern Montana Event. It benefits the Creston Fire Department and it’s been going on for 57 years. People plan their vacations around it. And it’s big. It occupies the sports field and whatever additional open space can be found behind Creston School. Hundreds of people attend and it typically raises over $50,000 each year for the fire department.

So what were we doing there? There’s a lot of pomp and formality associated with the event. And somebody sings the National Anthem. Well, it should be obvious that we’re a well known musical group in the area. After all, we’ve sung at Carnegie Hall. This year some guys, as I understand it, were supposed to sing the Anthem but bailed at the last minute. So Allyson, ever so helpful in a pinch, volunteered the Valley Voices.

The event started promptly at 9:00 with several minutes of important announcements and obligatory introductions. Then it proceeded with the presentation of colors, this year by the Civil Air Patrol Color Guard, and the National Anthem, this year by us. I remember thinking as we stood there shivering through the announcements on a 30-degree April morning that the color guard had it worse: They had just their uniforms and, standing at attention through the announcements and introductions, it looked like they weren’t even allowed to shiver. But, given the signal, they marched to the flag pole, raised the flag with authority, and saluted.

That was supposed to be our signal to start singing. But I watched a moment too long and my signal came when the choir began to voice “Oohh say can you see …” Fortunately, I’ve developed that ever-so- useful skill of being able to sing without looking at the director and joined in while I pivoted 180 degrees. (Sorry, Allyson.)

The arrangement we sing, known as the Gaither arrangement because of the group it was arranged for, is an a cappella arrangement. That’s really good when you don’t have a piano along. Or a piccolo or even a ukulele. When it’s done well, it’s an absolutely magnificent sound. And this time we did it well.

And the audience went wild. I’m not sure if it was our magnificent performance or the fact that the phrase “… and the home of the brave” was the signal to start the bidding. I’ll go for the former.

In any case, it was a great experience. Great song. Great group. And an enthusiastic audience. Of course it might have been even better if we’d had a few more singers. Keep that in mind next time we’re invited to sing at a garage sale. Or a horse show.

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