Another intensely satisfying gig in Philly on Thursday night with my good pal Ansel Barnum. We returned to Children’s Hospital of Phila for another night sponsored by Musicians On Call. It was a relatively smooth drive from the LV and I got there by (almost) 5:30 pm.
Liz, our volunteer liaison for the organization met us in the lobby and took us upstairs to get signed in, and then it was off to various wards for room visits. This is a big place and there are various protocols for each floor.
The first wing had a variety of kids, families, teens, toddlers, babies, moms, dads, grandmoms, brothers, sisters, etc. so each room needed artistic decisions: song, style, volume, appeal, etc. I think we did well picking out material, gauging the situation in the room and then playing to the particular child. The antennas were up on this gig.
The second wing had quite a few sanitary requirements so we had to ‘gown’ and/or ‘mask’ or both in order to enter the room. And, we had to take off the stuff after playing each room and put the clothes in a hamper. Yes, it was hampering.
I had to sing through a mask – I found I had to cheat on covering my nose – and Ansel and I talked about how much information comes from watching people’s lips, smiles, etc. Ansel really had a tough time since he had to cover his harmonica with the mask. Cramped his style, for sure.
We played for unresponsive kids (severely handicapped) so we played some gentle tunes for one girl, and a bluegrass tune for another boy – and he lit up with smiles!!! My, my, my.
We played for some early teens that enjoyed what we did, smiling and reacting as teens do. They had a good time once they figured out that we weren’t too serious.
We played for some wide-eyed toddlers sitting on there mom’s laps. One mom sang along with us for her little child. And one mom said,’We have your CD!’. Wow. And her daughter got up and danced. One toddler didn’t know what to make of Ansel’s harmonica and she got spooked.
Giants, I Like Peanut Butter, Magic Penny, Skip to my Lou, I Wanna Be a Dog, Shoo That Fly, Old MacDonald, Apples and Bananas, Twinkle Twinkle, ABC’s… what ever seemed to fit the situation.
We played longer than usual but the time went quickly. I hit the road back to Bedlam about 8:30. It’s a freebee, but it’s worth the experience. Wouldn’t it be nice if some fine corporation would fund this?
Few paying gigs this month.