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The Joy of Visiting "Gessnerville"

I have been enjoying my visits to "Gessnerville" for quite a while now. It's a place where I go to relax and to hear straight-ahead-folk-church-style-no-nonsense-chording and melody, and humor, outlandish use of words (sometimes), and the ordinary made special, as seen through the eyes of its creator, Bill Gessner.

Bill could take you on a trip to his own personal view of hell. I mean anyone can do that. But Bill is a writer, a real writer, but although you can see his heart, and his insight, and his humor, his mission is to entertain, and you come away feeling good, and light hearted; like you may feel after seeing a good movie. The stories that Bill tells are interesting. The delivery unorthodox and unique; and anyone who doesn't appreciate stuff like that would probably blow right on by the outskirts of "Gessnerville" on their way to some shallow glitzy place to get mugged and drugged by folks who could never create anything genuine in their life if they tried. They probably would not pick up any of us hitchhikers holding "Gessnerville" signs either.

Bill is in the business for the long haul. You can tell that on any visit to Gessnerville. It's a place that may have a K-Mart, but will never be a cookie-cutter kind of community. It's rolled oats and baked potatoes, not sugar corn pops and puff pastry. Are you ready for that kind of a diet? Those songs go just as good with a bottle of beer as with a dish of yogurt. They are songs and tales and lullabies, and laments, about everything, and I mean everything, under the sun. They are comfortable and broken in and new at the same time. Bill's music is like finding a second-hand store off the main highway filled with anything you want, in new condition at low prices. I like the men in Gessnerville. They are gentle and make me laugh. I like the women too. They are always worth every word they get, and upon hearing those loving words, can probably be counted on to give it right back until a person is worn out from loving them, but ready for more after awhile.

Have you ever heard anyone say, "I like that town, and I can't wait to go back!"? Well that's Gessnerville. I just hope that it keeps growing. Behind every song is a door into another home in town, with another interesting situation. You can sing a Gessnerville song, and you can visit, but you could not create another place like it, and you'd be crazy to try. Think about another cartoonist copying Snoopy or Charlie Brown, or another author rhyming like "The Cat In The Hat." Some things can't be copied. That is true uniqueness. A singer can copy Woody Guthrie, or steal a lick from Louis Armstrong, or Jelly Roll Morton, or Leadbelly, or Bob Dylan, but no one can copy Bill Gessner. Not possible! So I'm for letting Bill do his thing. Sometimes I wonder what "his thing" is, and maybe he does too, but I know that I can't wait to go back to Gessnerville and really relax.

-- Charlie Maguire, www.charliemaguire.com