Susan Cattaneo at Wildflower Festival

Last year, I had the chance to perform as a finalist in the Wildflower Festival in Richardson, Texas. I flew down to Texas in May and performed two songs in front of an amazing audience that listened close and clapped loud. I am new to the Texas music community, and over and over again, I am struck by how kind and wonderful they are. Everyone involved with the festival could not have been more welcoming to me. When I arrived at the hotel, there was a lot of talk about Al Johnson who normally MC’s the show. I guess he wasn’t feeling so well, and they weren’t sure he would be able to attend. Happily, he was able to make it, and he did a terrific job of introducing all of us. He even joined in on a song with Lloyd Maines and Terri Hendrix.

Al Johnson’s Hospitality

After the show, all the artists, judges and tech people involved were invited back to Al and Pat Johnson’s house for dinner and a hang out/jam session. While my trip had many special memories, this evening will go down as a truly magical one. We all gathered in the Johnson’s living room and took turns passing the guitar around. It was one of those intimate moments where you feel like music matters. And the fact that you make music means you’re part of something important in the world.

So, it was with great sadness that I read that Alton Walter Johnson died over the holidays. I only met Al briefly during the festival and that night, but I will always remember the community that he and his lovely wife and all those Texas folks created at that festival and in that living room; the intimate and inexplicable connection that happens with music between singer and listener. Between musician and instrument.  Between hearts of like minds…

Before I left that day, I was inspired to record a little thank you that I never sent to anyone, because it was early in the morning, and I never got a chance to finish it. But I wanted to attach it here. It’s called Texas Kindness, and Al Johnson certainly had that in spades. Thank you, Al. You will be missed…