"I suppose I have time for one more,” blues performer Eric Bibb told the crowd.
As he quietly tuned his guitar, an audience member broke the silence with a shout. “Welcome to Bloomington, man!”
“Thank you,” Bibb said as he looked up from his guitar with a smile. “OK, two more.” The audience broke out into the rowdy applause it had been providing throughout the evening.
Summer Night of Lotus brought a full crowd Friday night to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
Though only one of the three acts was even in Bloomington at the scheduled start time of 7 p.m., both the musicians and the crowd maintained their enthusiasm throughout the night.
After waking up at 4 a.m. in Salt Lake City, bad weather conditions in Chicago delayed Bibb’s arrival to Bloomington.
But after receiving a second standing ovation from the crowd during his encore performance, Bibb said, “I would have gotten up at 3 a.m. for this.”
The event served as a preview to the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival, which takes place every fall in Bloomington. The event showcases international music groups.
Friday night’s event began with Hector del Curto’s Eternal Tango Trio, led by front man Hector del Curto of Argentina playing the bandoneon, a tango-specific accordion, and featuring Gustavo Casenave of Uruguay on piano and Jisoo Ok from Korea on cello.
Because they were the only band that drove in instead of flying, they were not delayed because of bad weather. The audience was treated to a bonus set from the trio as the following acts rushed into town from the Indianapolis airport.
Del Curto entertained the crowd by confessing that Ok is his wife, and though they had been playing together for some time, it was not until they danced tango together that they fell in love.
Audience members were then invited to come down to the stage and take their own stabs at tango.
Loren Serfass, a graduate student in the Jacobs School of Music, attended because a friend had recommended the trio. Serfass has attended and volunteered at previous years’ Lotus World Music & Arts Festivals.
“It’s a really great way to see different kinds of music,” he said. “It’s also a nice thing to volunteer in, and they need a lot of volunteers.”
Teri Watkins, the special events volunteer coordinator for Lotus, said 480 volunteers helped to run last years’ event in the fall.
“Bloomington has a long summer – lots of little events,” Watkins said. “We wanted to become part of that culture.”
When a couple from the audience stood to dance, Bibb again showed his appreciation for the crowd involvement.
“It’s been a long time since I had people dance to my finger-pickin’,” he said.
French-Canadian band De Temps Antan rounded out the evening, despite also being delayed in its travels and without a guitar after it went missing at baggage claim.
The band also invited the audience to come down to the stage, and the crowd happily accepted the invitation to dance.
Ok agreed that the audience was the deciding factor for the evening.
“It was so exciting because the audience supplies the energy, and if they don’t get into it, we don’t get into it,” Ok said. “But they inspired us every time.”
Lee Williams, executive director of the festival, also praised the crowd.
“I’m always amazed at Lotus audiences,” he told the crowd. “(The night’s performers) couldn’t be more different, and yet you responded wonderfully. The hidden secret of the whole event is you.”