I was asked by my friends at the George Taylor House to entertain a group of kids from the Catasauqua YMCA summer camp on the lawn at the site. A mix of ages, with some of the younger ones asking questions in the middle of songs, politely raising their hands. You can’t discount curiosity. Several kids knew me from a gig I had at the town pool last year so we felt right at home.

There was one boy who clung to one of the counselors, burst into tears when he was late to pick up an instrument and was pretty hot and cold emotionally. Having just played for kids with cancer, I reined myself in and tried not to prejudge him, thinking, upon reflection, that he may be having a tough time at home, for whatever reason. I have to watch myself sometimes.

It was a nice, small gig in the middle of the summer. All in all, just fine in my book.

I finished up my whirlwind tour on Sunday in nearby Hellertown at 9:30 am. I was asked to lead a summer service, focusing on ‘Community Singing’, so I had a chance to play for a few kids, some families and elder folks in the congregation. I’ve done these before and I enjoy, once again, trying to mix in the children’s stuff with the adult. There were only a few kids today, so I didn’t bring in the bag and went with All God’s Critters for the children’s section.

I did get to play “Bird of Paradise” and “Branching Out” as a prelude, offered a few comments and the service launched. I was warned not to go beyond one hour, seeing how it was a summer service, and I obliged. I was glad to offer another new tune “We Are Welcomed” that I’ve recently worked up. It’s still in developmental stage, but this was the perfect place to drag it out in the public ear. It worked quite well, and I thank Claudia Schmidt for introducing it to me through my radio show two weeks ago. It’s now up and running.

I was asked to do “the message” about community singing, and decided to do it on the fly and finish it up with “Lessons From Pete”. I found myself talking about singing in church as a child, standing next to my dad (who was a really good singer), and feeling proud that I could raise my voice and sing with my family and the congregation. I surprised myself with that observation. I seldom credit my father’s place in my musical heritage, and today, this brought it back home, so to speak.

I followed with “Lessons from Pete” which I didn’t quite nail down. Drat.

Due to a snafu in the program, I had a chance to fill a slot and I did “I Can See Clearly Now”, again another opportunity to work this fine song out in public. I’m still working on finding the best way to get the audience to sing the ‘Bright’s’ back to me. If I can work this out, this will be a keeper.

I wrapped up the service with “Magic Penny” getting the folks to sing their parts (women, men, kids, all, all a capella… a nice community celebration of voice). I followed with the postlude with some mandolin tunes.

As it turned out, it was about 45 minutes, well under the fore-warned hour limit, and I thought everyone got something out of it. I got several compliments, waves, smiles, etc. as folks left, sold a few CD’s and did a good job for local congregation’s summer service.

Three gigs in less than 24 hours. I got paid well and I was out in the community doing my craft. That’s pretty cool.

I was asked to do a 3:30 set at this benefit festival for the Quakertown Food Pantry at St. Paul’s Church in rural Quakertown/Springtown. It was a whole afternoon of music under a big tent, with a big sound system and a whole variety of music acts including my friends Two of a Kind, several local rock bands, a solo guitarist noodling behind loops, and a steel drum band that couldn’t make it for the last set. It paid well, and the church community does it’s best to put on a good afternoon of entertainment.

I made it in plenty of time and set up for my 45 minute set. Once again, I was booked to do family/kids music but there were very few kids when I started. I have to negotiate these sets, playing to the adults while trying to establish the fact that I’m doing kids material. I have to engage the adults as best I can.

I did get to start out with I Can See Clearly Now, a tune that I have recently worked up, but needs some public performance for me to start to own it.  Eventually a family settled in, finished the packed supper they brought in. They finished up and asked the dad, the young daughter and son to come up for Giants. It was a good way to engage them and the adult audience. It worked well and the rest of the set kept folks attention, with the help of the children dancing in front of the stage.

Once again, I played for twenty or thirty folks, worked them as best I could and entertained those who were there. It’s hard work, and, between the NJ gig and this PA gig, I was totally spent when I got back to Fourth Street.

I was amused by the other local bands who played before and after me. All the guitarists and bass players brought in incredible effects boards, some having eight or so pedals in front of them. It seems to be the state of the art to have “My Sound” available for these guys, with only secondary thought about the material or stage presentation. This is the world of entertainment, nowadays…. Curious.

This was the first of three gigs in 24 hours, and this was at a small town festival across the Lehigh River from Easton. I got there for a 1 pm set, headed to the stage with the big sound system. It’s then I found out I was off to the much smaller, pop-up tent stage in the kids’ area. No problem. I had a great sound system, and felt quite comfortable in this situation. So, nobody around but the sound guys, and I launched in, playing to no one in particular. I was playing the Cat Came Back when an older couple came into the tent, singing the words. This is a good sign. As they settled in, a young couple with a very cute boy toddler met them and pulled out a blanket. Seems they were aiming for my set.

As we played, I found out that the dad was raised on my music so was quite familiar with my material. I was particularly struck by the young boy. His eyes zoomed in on me and my guitar – one of those magic moments when a child discovers live music. Over the course of my set, the lad headed for the bag of instruments, glommed onto the maracas and started to play. There were some very fine moments with the grandchild, the grandparents and the mom and dad, taking some pics, playing with the child.

Often I play in front of next to nobody, but there are moments like these that define my craft. I finished up and headed out to my second gig in the afternoon, over in Applebachsville, PA for a Joyful Noise festival about 45 minutes away. Round one.

This was the beginning of a run of weekly sessions with summer school students from the Bethlehem School District. I am just one of several artists working with kids during the summer vacation to help curtail what is known as ‘summer slide’ when kids educational progress erodes significantly over the summer months. It’s part of a proven process nationally to engage kids academically.

I had eight or so K’s and 1st graders, only one girl (Shylah, quite so…) and a bunch of boys with various attention spans. One K boy was out of hand and had to be taken to the cafeteria for some crayon time. I figured it be best to break them in with my standard stuff and not hit the literacy stuff too soon. But, singing along, working out rhymes and otherwise engaging them is part of the process, and I had to figure out where they were as well. Cat Came Back, Tutti Tah, Peanut Butter, Down by the Bay, etc.

I have one hour with them and about 45 minutes into the session, one boy said, “I wanna go home.” I had noticed he was not as engaged as the others. So, it was time to dance! I broke out the bag and we did Splish Splash and Jelly in the Dish, and, sure enough, he was back in the game. I’m glad I have a bunch of arts tools in my saddle to be able to recognize and act on these situations.

Another particularly shy boy came in while I was about 15 minutes into the session. He was escorted by the teacher/assistant, painfully shy and in tears. Over the next hour, it was great to see him break out of his shell and start to participate. During Down by the Bay, he started to laugh and eventually chipped in some rhymes and got up and danced. A minor victory in the day of an arts educator.

It was particularly hard work, especially with such a small and young age group, so I’m earning my small honorarium in this series. I look forward to getting to know the kids better as we go along.

I had a two set afternoon with the kids and counselors at Camp Smile, a gathering for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley. It’s held on the campus of Cedar Crest College and the crew and kids were resplendent in tie-dyed tee shirts on this first day of the camp. There was some heavy storms on the way so we decided to move inside the Tomkins Center for the sessions. I was just part of the action today, with a water slide and several Star Wars characters roaming the facility, too, including the heavy-breathing Darth Vader.

As is always the case in these situations, I insisted that the counselors be integrated in the ‘show’, and they all got the message, though, several times I would stop the music and focus attention on one counselor to actively commit to the motions (with feeling!). It worked and they understood their role as mentors.

There were few kids who were somewhat hesitant to join in, and I had to remind myself of the situations some of the kids are in. Some have cancer, while others have members of their family dealing with the disease. But my job is to brighten things up, get them singing, laughing and moving. That’s what we did and the folks who hired me were pleased with the results.

During the shows, Darth could be heard just outside the doorway and would occasionally pop in to say hello. That was definitely a show stopper as the kids would go nuts, and I was unsure how to connect his visits with my music. Once, as he exited, I even mentioned that he was a party pooper for not sticking around. Eventually, he and two stormtroopers came in and one of the counselors called me out for saying that about him, and a big groan went up from the crowd. It was pretty funny. I then made the mistake of saying Star Trek instead of Star Wars, and I was now in pretty deep with the Dark Lord.

I figured I’d get Darth to dance, so I quickly introduced All Around the Kitchen, got the kids up, had several of the kids come up with some dance moves and soon Darth, the stormtroopers, counselors and kids were all boogying. The atmosphere was electric and incredibly funny. I really appreciate the actors in those costumes being loose enough to follow my lead and some rich theater popped up out of nowhere. There was so much joy in the room.

I was reflecting on this as I awoke this morning, and the symbolism is fairly obvious. These kids are wrestling with their own dark lords every day, with cancer in their lives, in their families. And sometimes you just have to dance with the devil in order to process it all. It was a very curious way to do it but it turned out to be a spontaneous and creative way to express such feelings. I was in awe of the process and proud to be a catalyst for a part of it. It was a glorious riot!

The day before, I had my doubts that the weather would cooperate on this one. But, it turned out to be rain-free, though hot and muggy. I set up among the soap, dog biscuit, wine, goat cheese, pastries and indigenous plant folks, took off my shoes, set the kid bait (the ubiquitous shaker bag) and launched into my Sunday morning folk sermon. A three hour tour… a three hour tour…..

Today, I brought out my mandocello, just to air it out and simply get to know it. It remains a powerful instrument that needs to be played. I noodled on mandolin, exercised numerous tunes in various states of flux, took mental notes and “played”. These sessions continue to be instructive.  I work on lyrics, new songs, chatter with the other vendors and try to engage those who pass by. I value these opportunities.

I’m always amazed at the kids that cruise right by, always with a parent or grandparent doing the circuit. I also think about my tips into my mandolin case. Folks assume I’m trying to sell my CDs (I am.) and disregard the tip jar. That’s what I’m here for. And a dollar is mighty cheap for what youse get.

I closed up at noon, packed the car with some good help, and then walked the space to thank the vendors and get to introduce myself to them. I got some fine mushrooms from one fellow. One chat with a vendor at several other places I play. She had some valuable comments about having me on the grounds.

She said that they miss me when I’m not there. As vendors, they appreciate that I am able to engage the kids, giving the opportunity for the parents and the vendors for some serious barter time, to chat without interruption, and make sales. Seems obvious to me, but sometimes (including this site) the organizer doesn’t recognize the value of having live music, and paying for it.

As usual, time passed quickly, and I had many rich interactions with friends, children, vendors and my repertoire that made the time fly by.

I played the opening set at noon of a Multi-cultural Festival a block away from home, for the Holy Infancy School and Parish. Lots of fried food, volunteers and a chance of rain. There were few folks and only a couple of kids, but I slogged my way through an hour and a half set of music. Good moments throughout with Father Andy shaking that thang, some very responsive kids on the dance floor and some adults surprised by how enjoyable the music was.

The son of one of the teachers, Luis, had his massive sound system on hand and I had to ask him several times to turn me down. I’m not sure he has had to deal with acoustic professionals like me.

I was billed as Mr. Fry. This was a first, but somewhat understandable coming from the respect I have within the school. Of course, it’s Mr. Fry. Oh, well….

I was glad I could add to the festivities, and make my mark on the community as best I can. It didn’t rain until after 9 pm so the festival lucked out. Tomorrow, thunderstorms for my farmers’ market in Hellertown. Summer’s here.

I headed out to the Reading area for a return gig at small park pavilion next to a stream in rural PA. I appreciate these fairly regular gigs from the network of folks who book community park series. This was the first one for me this season, and the first of six for this particular run of family shows. Several familiar faces in the crowd along with an assortment of young families, kids and adults. It was a comfortable show, with the kids diving into the bag of shakers early, with several kids leading the way for the other shyer kids. One little boy had his eyes on my guitar though, and made a beeline towards it numerous times, with his mom two steps behind. I was able to let him play my guitar at the end, and promptly deposited the pick in sound hole. I also like having the scarves on hand for the more ambitious dancers in the crowd.

I had mentioned my favorite ‘super star’, a grandmother’s fine move. At the end, one family came up and showed me a phone picture of their grandmother doing that move a year ago at a family birthday party one year ago. There she was, doing exactly what I remember. I got a really good laugh out of that. This stuff has some history to it, and sometimes I get wind of it later on. Very cool.

We returned to Northeastern NJ, close to the NY State border for our last RockRoots of the season, an afternoon show for 450 5th – 8th graders. We haven’t had nearly the number of gigs this year, for various reasons, but the show remains relevant and well played. Nick, Kevin and Wayne consistently play for real, and I manage to keep the show on track with the speechifying. Two hours up and two hours back for a 59 minute show. Still worth the time and effort.

RockRoots had two assemblies in Northeastern NJ, close to the City. It was to be a long day, in that we were to do assemblies spread out between a 9:30 am gig and a 1 pm gig on the same stage (!!) with the early set bussed in from near by. Road Trip for the K-3rds!

Traffic was really bad, leaving at 6:45 for a 9:30 show. I got there at 9:20, and thanks to the band and the school we were ready at 9:31 (sez Kevin) and we actually waited for the last group of kids to come in. On stage in 15 minutes after driving (a lot of sitting…) in Jersey traffic for two and a half hours. (‘I think I can, I think I can…”) I had two hiccups – one I knew (slide solo after first verse, sorry Wayne…) and the second was leaving out the World Music section and jumping to the final Rap stuff. The band actually wondered if I did it on purpose, but, in retrospect, it was my ‘wind up the show’ instinct kicking in. Good for the lads and good for the situation (get the kids back on the buses).

We had a large space in between shows. We headed to a Jersey diner and I treated the lads to some food. It was simply good to take some time and check in with the band, especially since I usually drive separately.

I was glad for the coffee from the diner. We got back with a half hour to spare, I changed my guitar strings and the 4 – 6th graders came filing in. This group was cranked and we played particularly well, even though it was our normal nap time. Back in the car at 2:10 and off to PA. A much quicker drive back.

It’s a shame that the demand for the RockRoots assembly is not what it used to be. It invariably is appreciated by kids, teachers and lunchroom ladies across the state. I was able to support my family for many, many years by getting in my car from either PA or CT and driving to NJ, crack o’ dawn. The Crash of ’08 really cut back on school arts funding, and the fertile Young Audiences of NJ connection has not been the same. That is balanced by the fact I’m not up for driving to NJ three times a week anymore.

It’s a really good show and I’m proud of its theatrical and educational strengths.

I am always amazed by the professionality of Nick, Wayne and Kevin. They deal with the traffic and each other, show up on time, go on in time and play the show with intelligence, good humor and the ability to roll with my punches. They (we) always do a good show.

 

It was a wet beginning this morning, with a chance of some sun during my set at 10 am. I was hired to supply sound and do the opening set at a relatively new (3rd year) fine arts festival in Hellertown on Saturday. Again, I do it for some friends on  the committee and the chance to play acoustic music in my community. The other performers hail from the Godfreys open mike crowd, and I’m glad I can add to the energy of the group.

When I arrived they showed me to a tent down by the Creek, but there was a mobile food vendor running his generator close by, and I had to tell the festival folks that it was not going to work, thinking of my fellow players who would have to deal with this for the next 7 hours. We moved quickly back to the spot we did last year, next to the historic house near the road. It was the right move. Pretty cloudy to start with.

I set up as quick as I could, with help and opened to no one near me, but to the artisans spread out in tents across the lawn. I’ve learned that the music is as much for the artists as it is for the public. They have to endure a very long day of set up, a hope for sales to offset the entrance fee, and potential patrons passing by. It’s a particularly tough way to make a living. I know. I can relate.

I was warmed up from the Bakery gig the night before, and nailed it from the first chords of Don’t Call Me Early. I was surprised with this strong opening (at 10:15 in the morning) and fed on it for the next hour or so. This is going to be a good session.

I tried a mandolin tune early, but my strings told me, “You better change us soon”. Mando-wrasslin’.

The sun came out briefly and I leaned on Here Come’s the Sun, of course. I started out slightly out of tune, stopped, and evoked George Harrison, swearing to honor him and the song, by tuning up. It remains one of the tunes that I measure myself with – it’s a bitch to play exactly right, and with feeling. I came close today, again.

A little later I had the chance to float a new song for this situation. I have always loved Johnny Nash’s Bright Sunshiny Day, and had downloaded the lyrics. Yesterday, as I went through my woodshed file, I found it, and ran through a rough version of it. It was on deck. It was really fun to play, it started to fit and, with the support of the next folks on stage, we massaged the great chorus into something that clicked with me. I know how to make this a new ‘keeper’ in my set. And the sun stayed out for the rest of the day. I have some work to do on the song, though.

I particularly enjoyed today. I love playing through a sound system, outside in pleasant weather, for artistically engaged people, next to an old PA stone building, playing my repertoire on this old Martin. I had a fine canvas in front of me today and I was able to create. Good stuff.

 

 

 

 

http://www.sauconvalleyconservancy.org/saucon-creek-arts-festival.html

This is strange and wonderful gig that rolls around every couple of months. It’s a cafe in a bakery in a quaint village along a gorge in south PA and Friday is pizza night, so folks turn out with a bottle of wine, order some artisan food and, hopefully, listen to live music. I enjoy the challenge of making folks listen and it works here. I also get to play my adult acoustic material for a change.

The kicker is that I get paid in tips, a pizza, a loaf of bread and some croissants. But its worth the travel, time and effort. Folks are starting to come back to see me here, and there are familiar folkie faces from Godfreys and elsewhere.

I made the mistake of asking if anyone had requests, and, immediately, someone said Neil Young. Things never change. I told the lady that I would play one at the end of the night (no one thought I was serious..). She did stay til the end and I face-palmed myself, saying, “I forgot!” By then the audience “got it”, that I was going to play my material and play it well.

A good night, and I dined on a fine veggie/anchovy folded pizza on the way home. The ones in the tip case will pay for my laundry for the next couple of weeks. That’s how I measure my success these days.

I was asked to return for a few songs with the kids in front of their parents and families, and, most importantly reconnect with the kids one more time. The kids were up on the stage in the gym and did a couple of songs before our set. We started off with Bear Hunt with their Dorney Park verse, followed with the Little Sally Walker circle dance, Magic Penny and then Jelly in the Dish with the scarves. Amazingly we pulled them off as if we were down in the classroom, with little self-consciousness and some fun moments. I was able to relate to the parents what I was trying to accomplish over the span of my residency, add a few humourous asides, let the kids’ voices be heard on their own.

I was pleased with the whole run of visits, finding new techniques, brushing up on old material, finding out what tunes lasted when I was gone and simply enjoying playing with the kids.

I offered my CDs for $5 and had only a few takers. One father came up and asked if the CDs were with the kids. I said no and he walked away since his kid wasn’t on them. I said that your kid will sing along with it in your home, live and in person. But, that’s not what he wanted. Nuts.

I hope to return next year. One teacher said that she had chatted with other teachers in other schools that I was doing this project with Third Street Alliance and they were quite jealous. Indeed, pretty deep early childhood education going on.

I returned to First Pres preschool for a morning, half hour set in the gym of the school. Parents, grandparents, teachers and kids on blankets on the floor filled the place, so I had my PA ready. I had forgotten my musical bag, and had considered running back to the SouthSide for it. Turns out it was best that I didn’t. Too much chaos, too many kids, too short a set.

I did Finger in the Air for the first time in a while, as an opener. My friend Tom Druckenmiller had played it on the Sing Out podcast, and I had forgotten what a fine rendition is on the Playground CD. Nice to have it back in the rotation. We did all the good stuff, and I noticed early on that the kids wanted to dance, so I was able to do Names of the Animals, engage the older siblings on a creative level while the little ones simply danced with their friends.

What made this gig special was the small family gatherings spread out across the venue, not rows of kids, separate from their families. Lots of lap-sitting, photos of kids having a good time, creating some unique interactions among the generations. Powerful stuff, now that I reflect on it.

The principal gave me the check ahead of the session, and I remarked, “Oh, that’s right. I get paid, too.” I was half kidding. There’s a lot of truth in the fact that I play for the experience and the opportunity to create my art. It’s amazing that I do get paid for a fair price, and be done by noon.

It was a quick turn around from Sunday’s folk festival to two morning assemblies with RockRoots on Monday. We had an 8:45 first set so I left town at 6:30, hoping that the rain and the traffic would not complicate things too much. All said, it is amazing that the four of us can be ready right on time so consistently. A tip o’the hat to my friends in the band.

We did our two sets remarkably well, considering we haven’t done the show in a couple of months. We were loose, I remembered my lines and the faculty, kids and principal had a great time. As I shared with John Gorka the day before, I get the chance to play in front of  750 kids frequently, but nobody on the folk circuit knows about it. A different world.

Back in Bethlehem by noon or so.

I have very few opportunities these days to poke my performing head above and into the larger folk circuit, and this was one of them. Spring Gulch is in its 31st year and I’ve been invited now three times. I am the sacrificial opening act on the Sunday, ostensibly as the family folk act. The last two times involved rain so I was looking forward to good weather today. I was also anticipating playing the set before my friend John Gorka. Simply being on this national bill was quite gratifying, and similar to opening for Tom Paxton at Musikfest Cafe and my many memorable gigs at the Philly Folk Fest.

Unfortunately there is no longer a crowd of kids to play for an aging folk audience, and I am hired to do my family show. The Sunday crowd is slow to make it down to the stage area, eating breakfast, breaking down camp sites, all for a “kids” show. I really do appreciate the folkies who do show up, and they are as good an audience as there can be, sans children. They join in singing, doing hand motions, etc., but my ‘show’ really is in about my interaction with the kids. I am somewhat handcuffed in these situations and I try to engage the adults while doing my kids material. I’m glad that I am comfortable enough with my asides and observations that it turns out to be an engaging overall show. But, it is hard, hard work.  I did get many compliments afterwards, so there was some gratification. And several folks who have heard me over the years reflected back on some of my gigs way back when. Good to reconnect with my other excursions in the past.

I actually owe this gig to Sophie, the daughter and granddaughter of the two presenters of the festival Andy and Michael Braunfeld. They both said that she insisted I return. She said, “Not just Trout Fishing or John Flynn, but Dave Fry.” Whatever it takes, I suppose. Sophie knows.

I did my good family set: Bear Hunt, Peanut Butter, Names to the Animals, Giants and more, all the time trying to encourage more kids to come down, grab an instrument in front of the stage and get involved, while balancing on this thin adult/kids edge in performance values.

What makes these occasions so special is the opportunity to for me to perform in front of my peers on the Folk Circuit. I feel I have the performance chops to play on main stages like this, and I certainly have played in front of large audiences, especially in my assembly work. I belong here.

Driving back, I regretted not doing Lessons from Pete at some point in the set, risk stepping aside from the kids material just so I could present my folk opus to this very particular audience. But I felt constrained by the task at hand assigned by the promoters. I would love to return with my trio for a real Dave Fry set, play to the hard-core folkies and deliver my good adult material. But, I am glad that I can set up avenues to the Philly Folk Fest, meet the good folks who know what I do, and, with my new CD, get back to that festival.

I particularly cherished my time back stage with my friend John Gorka. We were able to share some quality time as friends/brothers, talk about how lucky we are to be able to do this for a living (especially compared with those old blues guys…..). I was able to share some of my botherations about where I am on the folk food chain, but was able to provide for my young family over the last 25 years. And I found myself saying, “But, you know, nobody else on the circuit put together a folk club like Godfreys.” John chimed in, “and made it last.” We shared our family’s recent histories, heath issues, how our bodies are turning into our dad’s, talked about some recent passings of fellow performers, and shared great Godfreys stories and more. This was a precious time; I rarely have conversations like this but with only a handful of close friends. I felt flush with my kinship with my good friend. …and there was good hospitality food on hand.

John has become a consummate performer and I complimented his ‘show’. His patter in between songs is as finely scripted as his songs. His timing, his stories, his delivery all amplify his stage persona. His vulnerability and warmth is unlike others on stage – he realizes this and crafts his stage personality to that end. He know what he is doing, just like I know what I’m doing with kids. We are the only folks who feature scrapple in our songs, and I was mildly disappointed that John didn’t have time to work it in his show. Understood that he had a 45 minute set, which is short for him. Such interesting connections.

John and I were talking by the CD tent (I, of course, sold nada….) but we were waylaid by a talkative fan (one of many for John, and it’s nice to see him handle it with grace). As I found my out of the conversation (the one about his friend’s choice of visiting with a dieing mother or going to a JG concert…that brought some raucous laughter from myself and John), I headed back to the stage area. As I was passing out of earshot, the guy said, “Who’s that guy?” John said, “He’s my hero.”

That’s all I needed.

I had my annual gig at Holy Infancy School, the parochial school a block from my apartment this week. They don’t have the money and I don’t ask – it’s part of being a good neighbor. It was a warm but not oppressive 90 degrees and we were able to do it on the Greenway behind the building. The kids have their favorites so I did the Cat Came Back, Peanut Butter, Giants and others.

A special thing happened early on. I had written a song with some of the afterschool kids last spring and I thought I’d reprise it, but hadn’t done it for a year. It dawned on me that a bunch of the kids were in the audience so I asked if I could get some help. Several hands shot up and I invited them up with me. They knew the song cold, complete with the hand motions and taught it to the rest of the crowd. I was struck that they ‘got it’ so completely that they pulled it out on the spot.

The school has a new principal, and I think she was not quite ready for the Dave Fry Experience and gave me several curious looks during the show. I said ‘Butt’ which probably upset her. But, I have seniority with this school.

It was a good session with my peeps down the street.

I headed out for a session with the Pre-K and K classes in Califon, NJ, part of my wish to make up for the poor weather and showing for the school’s PTA fundraiser earlier in the month. I felt that I had restored some balance, having gotten a big check for few kids back then. We gathered in the all-purpose room and I did the afternoon session without a sound system. It was fun and worth not getting paid for this session.

I picked out a lad in a wheelchair to play the Thunder Tube for Giants, and his teacher was particularly thrilled that I did. It seemed the natural thing to do. There were lots of hands raised early on, kids wanting to say something but I had to roll on. One boy got in the observation that I had played there in the fall with RockRoots. That was nice. One pre-K kid up front put his hands over his ears and the teacher escorted him to the side. That brought about several other kids putting their hands over their ears too. Sheesh. Everyone is a critic.

It was a bright, sunny day and a way to spend the afternoon doing what I do best.

I was hired to play for a PTA fundraiser in rural Western NJ on Sunday, and I got my asking price. I was looking forward to playing for big group of kids. Not to be. It was a cold and showery day with torrential downpours on my way to my 6 pm set. When I got to the community park around 5 pm, there were few families around. The lady in charge asked me to set up quickly and start in, in order to maintain some activity. I dove in, set up in the pavilion and began. A few girls were encouraged to come over, pick up an instrument and I something to work with. Over the course of the next hour, I engaged those girls and several others who came over, and we had a great time. The other folks manning the games, food vendors and volunteers reacted from their tables while dealt with the girls. It was too cold and too late in the day for this to work.

I felt especially bad by accepting the check but offered a free visit to the school in the next couple of weeks to do an in-house classroom visit with the little kids. I’d rather be playing for the kids than making a big payday. I’m pretty sure that the PTA found the funds from local sources for my services but it was awkward. I look forward to my return to the school as karmic payback.