I would like to acknowledge my son Jaimie here tonight a sophomore at Moravian, and my wish that my daughter Rosalie could be here as well. There she is! I love them both and hope that they will be proud of their dad, as I am proud of them.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term ‘artist’. somehow it infers that I know what I’m doing. Folkies are like that. We’re just bangin’ on the banjo’s; we’re just playing, ya know? Often, people will come up and thanks me for the great show. Show? Doesn’t that mean I knew all the words, nailed the instrumentals, hit all the chords? Hardly… It’s just playing, not art.
But as I reflect on my craft, I’ve come to realize that it’s not really what I do, but how I do it that informs my art, and makes each gig a laboratory for my creativity, based in communication and community. Pete Seeger turned me on to that, and I value and celebrate his inspiration with every audience.
It’s bee a touch few years, with the cratering of the economy, the rise of the Music Industrial Complex in Bethlehem, health and family issues (don’t you love the word ‘issues’?), and my subsequent move back to the Lehigh Valley. But I come to realize that my extended family now consists of you, the many creative and caring people in the arts scene, many of you who can’t afford tonight’s 30 bucks.
And I am thankful.
Thanks to my mom, Doris Fry, a gifted Early American design artist and, apparently, a mean accordion player. After dedicating a song with ‘Red Hot Mama’ in the chorus, she stopped bugging me a bout being a folk musician. To my dad, Wayne Fry, who sang Sinatra tunes in the car to my eternal embarrassment, and to them both for not throwing away those Fats Waller 78’s in the basement. Your Feets Too Big changed my life.
Thanks to George Dinsmore for encouraging me to open Godfrey Daniels and his good sense to have a wonderful daughter Cindy Dinsmore who fed and cared for all of us ragtag folk musicians in the early days of Godfrey’s. We deluded ourselves into thinking that Godfrey’s reputation was for the music, the sound and the listening audience, but really it was for Cindy’s Big Apple Pie.
Thanks to Mike Space, Ramona LaBarre, Gar Davison and others who responded to the call to pick up the reins when I moved to CT for my family, and who still guide Godfrey’s into this new century. And especially to Ramona and Dina Hall, who allow me to bounce my slings and arrows off both of them in the last few years.
Thanks to the many volunteers at Godfrey’s who understood the simple, powerful philosophy of good folk music shared in an intimate setting. And how each of them found their niche at the club, adding their special skills went needed and keep it going for 37 years. Amazing folks.
To the world-class performers who also understand that they have to raise their game for such a small house.You can further honor me by becoming a member of Godfrey’s and help sustain this unique national treasure.
Thanks to Bill George and Touchstone Theater for re-introducing me to the powerful concepts of theater, all which led me to street performances in Mexico and the White House lawn….. and getting me out of the late-night bars and into crack o’ dawn school assemblies.
Thanks to the many band mates who have shared the stage with me: in bars, coffeehouses, multi-purpose rooms, concert halls, festival stages and front porches. You gave me the opportunity to work on my craft on guitar, mandolin and banjo in a safe and caring manner… and let me experiment communicating with a live audience at the same time. As Hub Willson would often look from the piano and say, “Dave, be funny.”
And finally, too the many, many kids, some now grown up with their own kids, who taught me and continue to remind me that my art, my craft is playing music. Exactly that. Playing. And it’s in that play that my creative juices really flow, time disappears, I connect with other hearts, minds and souls, and we become community… in the zone. And, its in these moments I finally accept myself as an artist. I do know what I’m doing. I am an Artist.
I’ll finish with this anecdote that happened literally a stone’s throw from here. As I walked down the path behind this building on evening during Musikfest, I was approached by three Goth teenagers coming my way, black trench coats, boots, chains, studs, body piercings; I believe they were all male. I was somewhat trepedacious, just the four of us crossing paths in the night. But as they approached me, the broke into, “Peanut, Peanut butter…”.
Powerful stuff, this folk music.
Thank you for this honor and your presence tonight.