About a decade or so ago, I had the pleasure of working with a student at Goddard College named Andrea Hoag. Although I loved her writing, I didn’t realize until she moved toward graduation that she was one of the most inspiring and inspired musicians I could hope to meet. She sent me a cassette tape (remember those?) of a recording she did with an accordionist, both of them wandering around all night once playing this song, “Offutt’s Waltz,” over and over again, the accordion and the fiddle twining around each other in a waltz of exquisite magic. Ken and I fell in love with it, and years later, he gave me her CD, Fire and Water, as a birthday gift.
Andrea is a Grammy nominee, winner of the Washington Area Music awards for “Best Traditional Folk Instrumentalist, and her music has been featured on All Things Considered, Performance Today, and at the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, and throughout the U.S. and Sweden.
But I write about her today because whenever I hear this waltz, written in gratitude for Chris Offutt’s book, The Same River Twice, I was lifted into both joy and sadness, an essence of life reflecting both the incredible wonder of what we’ve been given and its impermanence.
“Joy jumps up into plain view whenever she starts to play.” —Bruce Molsky
(And just a shout-out to my Lawrence pal, Andrea Hoag, also a woman of wonder and beauty who shares the same name with the fiddler!)