A sublime day in Fallon begins on McLean Road, which angles off to the south from US 50 on the western edge of town and leads to Lattin Farms, one of Fallon’s main attractions for locals and visitors alike.
The sun is high overhead in a clear blue sky with a few fluffy clouds thrown here and there, and the roadside is lined with cars for hundreds of yards in both directions — we aren’t the only ones with pumpkins on our minds. This is an October Saturday, when the farmstead celebrates the change of season with “Fall Festival”.
This event is devoted to family activities and farm-grown produce sales, with the annual corn maze the marquee attraction.
We enjoyed a dreamy hour here before departing with a load of white and gray-green pumpkins, warty squash and bright yellow melons and heading into town for lunch at The Wok on Maine Street. This is one of a half-dozen excellent dining choices in Fallon, and easy to recommend.
After lunch we checked into our motel, and after that we split up.
Robin went shopping, Shorty stayed in the room watching the Animal Channel, and I went over to the Oats Park Art Center where Lulo Reinhardt talked about his great-uncle Django and the music — now called Gypsy Jazz — that he made famous. Lulo lives in Germany, but his music derives from the Hot Club de France.
Lulo’s band was one of the three groups performing that evening in a program called “In the Footsteps of Django”, each inspired by Django’s music and each taking off with it in different directions. He and guitarist Olivier Kikteff of ‘Les Doigts de L’Homme’ spent an hour talking about Django, his music and theirs.
For me the great revelation from that conversation was that Django originally played the banjo-guitar, a six-string banjo with the neck of a guitar. It is tuned like a guitar but sounds like a banjo. We all know that he had suffered terrible burns to his left hand — his third and fourth fingers remained partially paralyzed and he relearned the guitar with only two useful fingers on his fret hand — in the process creating an
entirely new style featuring minor chords and a hard driving percussive technique.
It’s a sound that has banjo all through it.
We met up with the others in our group for an early dinner at The Slanted Porch, another of Fallon’s great restaurants, and after a promenade with Shorty we went back to the Arts Center for the evening’s performance. As planned, we arrived an hour before the performance in order to meander through the galleries (major display: gas pumps from the early automotive era) and enjoy a refreshment at the Art Bar.
Django and Stephane Grapelli
Les Doigts de L’Homme, “Medley Manouche”
And then the music began, and I blissed out. Rather than attempt to describe it, I’ve embedded videos of their performances here so you can enjoy them directly, and easily find more (just click the YouTube logo at the bottom right of the video).
Lulo Reinhardt, “Mar y Sol”.
Norig and Sebastien Giniaux
We had an All-American Breakfast at Jerry’s the next morning, and it made the grand finale to our visit, the cherry on top of the sundae. We were talking and eating, dipping our sausages into the syrup from our pancakes and sipping coffee, when we saw the fattest man we have ever seen in our lives. This small glimpse of the human condition at its most extreme was like the rest of our visit: Unforgettable. Thank you, Fallon!