Friday, March 1, 2013

Last Call for Saint Mary's Saturday Luncheon - an extra meal makes up for closing during the blizzard

St Mary's in a vintage photo card
Because of the blizzard that forced the volunteers to cancel St Mary's community luncheon on February 9th, the last meal of the 2013 winter season will be held at noon on March 2nd. I wrote last week about the last luncheon for the year, and attended it myself, or so I thought. During the meal an announcement was made, to the cheers of guests, volunteers and the musicians who travel here to perform each week, that the eight-week luncheon schedule would be extended by one more Saturday, to make up for the dinner lost to the blizzard. Threats of blowing snow, coastal flooding and winds gusting over 50 miles an hour, along with a state-wide travel ban issued by the governor, led to the cancellation. As it turned out, Provincetown had no electricity that day due to storm damage to power lines, so most of us were eating cold food from a can and huddling under extra blankets to stay warm that afternoon, along with about 700,000 other New Englanders without power.
So to make up the lost day there will be one more "last lunch" of the season, a last chance for friends new and old to gather for a meal, to meet and talk, and to enjoy a spirited blend of live music with a magnificent view of Provincetown Harbor as a backdrop. This season's guests have been treated to meals ranging from a traditional Thanksgiving style dinner, complete with roast turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, to Mary-Jo Avellar's famous chili. At my table a few weeks ago I met a woman from another Cape Cod village who brings various family members to visit Provincetown over a few winter weekends every year, this time visiting with her husband and two grandchildren. They had arrived in hopes of finding Priscilla Jacket's Tandoori Chicken on that day's menu, having tasted it in past years, and knew from the aroma as they walked through the door that this was indeed their lucky day.
I've always thanked the musicians as I've left the church after one of these luncheons, but last week I had a chance to talk to them as they were packing up their instruments. Live music has been a part of this feast many times over the years, but became a regular feature of the dinner about four years ago when Wellfleet musician Jean Sagara read a blurb somewhere asking musicians to volunteer their time on Saturdays in Provincetown. She came to play a few times, when she could, soon arranging her schedule to allow weekly trips to PTown, with her musical partner John Best in tow. Together they are the musical duo Black Whydah, playing various gigs around the cape, and in fact have just finished recording their second CD Places We've Pillaged - Black Whydah 2, available now on CD Baby independent music website, where you can hear a sample from each tune. Jean and John both play a number of different instruments on this compilation of their original music, which might be best described as Celtic new age. They play a few of these tunes, as well as music from many other genres, at St Mary's, joined by countless other fine musicians through the years.
For the last few winer seasons they have been traveling here from Wellfleet for St Mary's luncheons, January through February Saturday's every year, and inviting different Cape Cod musicians to join them every week, giving us a wonderful variety of instruments and musical styles to enjoy. Last week they brought Eastham's Barbara Adams and her fiddle, and were also joined by Provincetown's own April Baxter and her bodhran, a wooden-framed drum of Irish descent. Jean and John each play a variety of instruments, such as the cittern, a stringed European instrument vaguely akin to a large lute and dating back to the 1600s. The mandocello is another unusual stringed instrument you may hear, plucked and strummed like a guitar but with a much different sound. You never know what sort of new (or old) instruments you might find joining in with Saint Mary's piano on any given Saturday, with the crowd sometimes singing along to a familiar song or dancing to a tune they've never heard.
We thank all of the wonderful musicians, as well as the host of volunteers who have prepared and served these meals over the years, all of whom have helped to make these dinners so enjoyable. Join us tomorrow at noon 517 Commercial Street for great music, a bit of fellowship and St Mary's last winter meal by the sea.

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