Al Pacino and the Washington Folk Festival….. (10 cents)

have nothing in common, except that on Saturday, we attended the folk festival in the afternoon and watched “The Scent of a Woman” during the evening.

“The Scent of a Woman” won an Academy Award for Pacino in 1992. The plot and script is sort of silly – Pacino is a accidentally self-blinded retired Army colonel, who lives an isolated and introspective life in an alcoholic stupor in a shack behind a middle class house in a New Hampshire community which is also home to an elite private boys’ prep school (actually Emma Willard School, a girls’ school, but that’s a small point). A young man from the prep school is offered $300 to look after “Frank” over a Thanksgiving weekend, but is quickly maneuvered by the former military man into accompanying him for a weekend on the town in New York City, meant to be preparatory to his suicide. Identifying women by their perfume, driving a Ferrari although blind, having dinner with his brother’s family in White Plains as an uninvited and more than controversial guest, staying at a suite at the Waldorf, etc. etc., makes for more than a bit of nonsense, but……

the extraordinary acting not only of Pacino, but of Chris O’Donnell has his young week-end guardian makes the movie fun and compelling, and carries you right along.

Now, Pacino turned 70 this year. This would have made him feel right at home at the 30th Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo this weekend. On Saturday, the crowd was quite large and, although there were young families with very young children present (as there should be), the average age of the adult festival goer seemed to me to be 70+.

This obviously says something about the attraction of the music, meaningful to today’s seniors, and meaning nothing to today’s younger adults. Too bad.

We only stayed for three acts: Little Red and the Renegades (friends of ours), whose zydeco music is consistently listenable and tappable; Cathy Fink, whose very pleasant voice and the accompaniment of her audience, along with her guitars, banjos and ukeleles, made for an enjoyable and relaxing 45 minutes; and “Gibralter”, a North African band-about-town, which seemed a little heavy handed for a warm afternoon.

As I watched the crowd, I couldn’t help but think about what 30 years meant – it meant that the average attendee was over 40 at the time of the first festival. And at that rather advanced age, they start coming, and continue for at least the next 30 years, and who knows how many after that.


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