A long day on the road for a very special gig at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. I’ve been doing events at this wonderful small, yet world-class museum along the river in this classic small town on the Shoreline. in the late 1890’s, Florence hosted a painting colony of the early American Impressionists who painted en plen aire – out in nature – and the house, the museum, the gardens, the kids’ center, etc. are simply magnificent. I’ve played in the art museum, on the lawn, in the kids’ center over the years and have got to know the staff well. I even did a three day residency writing an impressionistic song about the place with the kids’ camp.
Today was two sets outside the kids’ center on the lawn – part of Old Lyme’s and the museum’s Midsummer Festival, so the town was jumping and so was the museum, especially for the kids. Hands on! And so was I. I was under a small tent with kids, adults, families strolling by, stopping, singing, playing shakers, dancing. It was a hip crowd (at a museum, of course) so there was lots of good interaction.
I was to do two sets, one at 11 and one at 2, but decided to stick around the area and interact on a more initimate nature with smaller groups. That’s where the magic happens. Some kids knew me from past gigs and asked for I’m Gonna Tell and others.
During one of these small sessions, a young boy (~10 years old?) eyed my mandolin, and asked if he could play it. I figured that he knew something about it, to even know that it was a mandolin. He picked it up and asked if I knew BlackBerry Blossom, a fairly wicked fiddle tune, so I said play it and I’ll try to follow along. He tore it up at a fairly brisk pace and then pulled out some weird second part that baffled me. I kept asking him to play that part again. We also did Soldiers Joy which sounded much better together. We chatted about his playing, that he didn’t play guitar yet, who he plays with and the standard gig talk – but he’s 10 and I’m 63 – communicating.
I played my Voodoo Chile / Irish Spring medley and he thought that it was really cool. It was an amazing 20 minutes, for me and for him. Priceless.
The later set was more subdued, but with some pre-teens hanging out for the whole set. I was surprised that they did, but as I finished, the older sister asked for I’m Gonna Tell which signaled to me that she had heard me before and wanted to call up one of the ‘kids’ songs she remembered so she could share it with her younger brother. Again, another surprising moment.
I left at 6 am from Bethlehem for the gig – smooth sailing up to CT – and made it back at 6:30 pm with some tougher traffic. Long day on the road but worth the experience. Check is in the mail though….