And, as many in the Folk Festival audience could doubtless attest, teenagers turn into adults adults who sometimes return home to live, indefinitely. White has obviously spent a good bit of time thinking about this. His song "Come On, Mama, Be Sixteen with Me" details his perfect plan for scraping reluctant young adults from the familial nest. It's a plan that involves Mom and Dad climbing out windows, getting brought home by the police, and being mouthy and promiscuous. But the silliness flips to sweetness at the end as White recalls how lovely his wife was at that age.
White closed his set with one of his most popular songs, "I Know Exactly What Love Is." The song's many verses take us from the birth of a baby girl through her childhood and first love to her marriage and old age, her death and redemption. White has an odd, impassioned way of talk-singing, his right hand keeping time, gently stabbing the air. His powerful voice soars to almost operatic heights, then turns into an almost nasal drone, and then drops to a whisper. After all the comedy, the shift was stunning. Local singers Matt Watroba, Katie Geddes, and Deb Wood provided chillingly beautiful backup on each eloquent chorus, and the crowd went wild.
Don White plays at the Ark on Saturday, April 1. Opening for him is the trio All about Eve (Katie Geddes, Deb Wood, and Debra Gerber), with tight, gospel harmonies and edgy takes on pop songs.