"It is what it is ..."
Unfortunately, what it is, is not what it is. If you catch my drift.
Yet grown men -- and sometimes mature women -- stand in front of microphones to explain football miscues, political missteps or indelicate indiscretions with the never-popular "it is what it is."
But with this newfound, all-encompassing answer for everything, I suddenly have discovered I now feel qualified as a critic. On just about everything.
Food? Sure. Of course, it is what it is! In other words, I liked what it was -- whatever it was -- when it went down.
Basically, this theory is one step removed from non-critical art interpretation. As in "I know what I like when I see it." Don't expect me to know Picasso from pumpernickel or Rembrandt from rutabaga but I really do know what I like when I see it.
Same with music. Can't really explain the difference between blues, blues soul, jazz and the like, but I know what I like when I hear it.
Normally around here we leave the critical musical assessment to the well-trained ear of Assistant Editor Jared Jernagan, though we pray his musical tastes run better than his taste in sports teams (Reds, Packers and the like).
But this past Sunday I was able to attend the Crown Street Music Fest in Jared's absence. And you know what? I liked what I heard.
Caught the end of Convergence, and Craig Watson did some catchy things vocally or via trumpet. Then Randy Salman simply blew me away, as he always does on a saxophone I could never make sound like that back in my school band days.
Blues Side Up had soul. It had blues. It rocked and it rolled. Most of all it had extremely accomplished musicians with Jonathan January, Steve St. Pierre and Jay Thompson leading the way.
The Thompson-January duet on harmonica and guitar had a big-time feel that made even the DePauw Track and Tennis Center venue come alive with sound and fury.
Crown Street headliner Jennie DeVoe was wonderful. Funny, gracious and still energetic with plenty left in her big-time voice despite playing an earlier gig that day at the Indy Rib Fest.
Several times she told the crowd, "We're having fun" and "maybe we'll come back to Greencastle."
She got the biggest reaction by asking, "Are you having fun?" After the audience roared its approval, she responded in a little-girl voice, "Is it because of me?"
Yes it was, it most certainly was.
But the performer we need to shower with praise here is Tad Robinson.
It was Tad who introduced Jennie DeVoe by calling her "a musician's musician." He spoke to the "romance, humor, wisdom and humility" in her music.
He told how "very fortune we are in Greencastle" to have such an act in our midst.
All true. But Robinson might as well have been saying those things of himself.
Locally I don't think we realize how truly fortunate we are that Tad Robinson chooses to share his talents with us. He could have been playing anywhere over Labor Day weekend. Yet there he was Sunday evening, backed by a talented band, and giving us a show easily worthy of 10 times the $10 price of admission that went to the Family and Youth Community Development Program.
Tad could easily command such prices and more as one of the best soul blues singers to walk this earth. Yet he shares his talents with local causes in his hometown like the A-Way Home Shelter and the FYCDP or chooses to entertain us in Greencastle on a typical New Year's Eve.
I worry we might take this talent for granted. Might assume that Tad Robinson is always going to be the centerpiece of local entertainment for me and you and a couple hundred of our closest friends, like he was Sunday evening. That one day the rest of the world we know what we know and his time and efforts will be directed elsewhere.
Sunday evening that venue should have been elbow to elbow with people getting to hear what we got to hear. The cause was good. The price was right. The music was a blast.
"We LOVE playing for you," Tad told a crowd that rose to giving him a standing ovation more than once.
We love it, too. And we know "great" when we hear it.
And in this case, it truly is what it is ...