Two class gigs in CT in a night and a day. I had to move to PA to get this booked, though.
Friday night was a trek from Bedlam up to Canton, CT by way of Northford It was good traffic on a Saturday afternoon. I picked up Ron Anthony and he was my saddle pal for the trip. I had booked a three song set, opening for Bill Staines with a packed house at the Roaring Brook Nature Center.
Roaring Brook is ‘Godfrey’s North’ for me. Stan Sullivan has been booking the venue for 34 years, and, with Ann, his partner, has been keeping the flame going for folk music in CT. Many, many of the same artists share both stages, and Bill is one of them. Bill remains one of my troubadour heroes, touring, recording, writing songs, and has been performing for decade. I was tickled when Godfrey’s booked him at first. He was a New England legend already in my mind, and is now a legendary friend and fellow traveler.
Bill’s show is quite wonderful in many ways, and is a consummate professional. His original songs are immediately singable, lots of folks come to sing them with him and they know the words and harmonies. He is a flat out great storyteller with his snippets from the road. He is a lefty guitar player, playing regularly strung beat-up Martin, and is a marvel to watch play. He puts it together in the great folk performance ways, with little separation between him and the audience.
I had three songs, and since the NE Patriots were playing that night, I though it best to keep in short.
I opened with Don’t Call Me Early, a last minute change from Gorka’s Legends, though appropriate, wasn’t a singalong. And that’s what these folks were here to do. Sing. It’s a powerhouse tune and a good opener.
I followed with my poem ‘Lessons from Pete’. It was very interesting performance choice, to put down the guitar right away. But presenting it as a spoken word piece (as I thought when I used it for the CT Troubadour contest) works to get folks to listen to the words. Strange – a folk poem about folk music. It worked well and focused the audience. It’s getting stronger.
The icing on the cake was Giants. I learned this from Kent Aldrich, a fellow open-miker on this very stage, so the connection was palpable. I’m using the Thunder Tubes now, and invited the only two children in the audience: a young girl and an even younger boy who came up with his dad. The little boy really got into it with a rebel streak and the girl played her part quite seriously, though not really sure about when.The audience did all the parts and the kids wailed.
The kicker was at the end when I asked the girl to take a bow. She didn’t bow but did a curtsey. It blew away the whole space, including myself. I remain amazed that when I open up these pieces up to ‘controlled’ spontaneity, I am rarely disappointed when magic happens.
Check out You Tube: Dave Fry performs “Giants” by Kent Aldrich
Anyway it was wonderful to return to play the main stage for my good friends Stan and Ann. I learned that I am returning this fall when Stan wisked me off stage.
A primo performing experience in front of a folk audience. Rare and wonderful.
Tomorrow, my second primo CT gig in New Haven a mere 16 hours away.