On Saturday night October 30, Alpha One held its fourth Return to Life concert featuring the Indigo Girls at the Merrill auditorium in Portland, Maine.
I had the pleasure of introducing the evening on stage with Craig Gray, Vice President of Prudential’s Return to Life Program. I thanked the audience for coming and let them know that proceeds from the concert would support Alpha One’s many services for people with disabilities throughout Maine. I added that the concert could not have happened without the generous support of Prudential, our sponsor for the concert series. Next, I introduced Craig who generously praised the work of Alpha One and spoke of Prudential’s pride in being associated with Alpha One.
Interestingly the audience paid close attention to the two of us. You don’t often see two guys in wheelchairs on stage to talk to those in attendance, and I believe it added to their experience to know that they were part of something beyond the concert itself. The evening took on a warm, friendly, and celebratory feel.
Then it was on to a great night of music with an enthusiastic crowd. Special guest Lucy Wainwright Roche sang and played acoustic guitar offering humorous stories about her songs and other topics. She was quite charming and it was clear to all that she was enjoying herself. Lucy was joined on stage by Amy Ray for harmonies on one song.
After an intermission, the Indigo Girls took the stage and played an unbroken set of music from their portfolio feeding on the energy of the audience. Although, they took the stage with a predetermined song list they shifted gears readily for requests from the crowd. The Indigo Girls are accomplished guitar players and their harmonies are beautiful. Many of those in attendance were clearly devoted fans with more and more of them standing and dancing to the music. At several points in songs they sang a line when the IGs paused. The IG s and the audience kept reinforcing each others energy with each successive song.
Another aspect of the concert that added to the event was the presence of two American Sign Language interpreters who did an amazing job of interpreting the lyrics and emotions of the songs. While ASL interpreters usually spell each other after a certain amount of time, at one point they spontaneously joined together in an interpreting duet on the hit song “Galileo”. It was terrific.
In a Halloween tribute to one of the IG songs, one fan came dressed as a cold beer bottle and another as a remote control. These were rabidly enthusiastic fans. At the end of the set, two other audience members dressed as the Indigo Girls were invited on stage for the last song. A moment of a lifetime for them I’m sure, singing on stage with the Indigo Girls. It was also a great surprise near the end when the Indigo Girls spoke about their respect and appreciation for the work of Alpha One and the sponsorship by Prudential.
After the show, we were treated to a private performance of one last encore of “Let it be me” by the girls. They were very gracious and although they were heading on to Burlington that night, spent precious minutes with us, completing our evening. Wow. What an amazing night.