This venue remains one of my favorite’s in CT, and it’s because of a gentleman who’s as classy a man I know. Louis Audette has been putting on house concerts of quality folk performers for several years, and I’ve been fortunate to be included on his roster. Lou plays stand-up bass with Cornbread, a CT acoustic band of friends, and has opened up his incredible home to fellow bluegrassers, songwriters and other esoteric acousticians for Sunday afternoon salon sessions.
You have to realize that this modern building (designed by Lou) houses an array of museum quality pieces of art, from centuries old portraits to very contemporary pieces by his late wife Anna. It’s tucked in a small neighborhood in New Haven in the middle of a residential block. The place is intoxicating; even the bathrooms had world class pieces of art.
This Sunday series is fairly hush-hush and is word of mouth (or email) and has developed a fairly intelligent, hip (and hip-replacement), curious and listening audience. They were a delight to play for, and with.
I was particularly glad to have asked my daughter Rosalie to attend with me.
Ron and Denny did the first set in fine style, with Ron’s great songs and guitar work and Denny’s fine bass. I sat in at the end on mandolin. My good friends did a great set and folks loved it. It’s the real deal.
After a break Lou spoke about Ron’s determination to come back from his stroke, and the audience gasped at the back story of Ron’s fight, and introduced me as a cancer survivor. A powerful intro, indeed.
I launched into The Vegetable Song, perhaps the greatest song ever, and even Rosalie said she was singing along, though she hadn’t heard it in a decade. That’s genetics for you.
Don’t Call Me Early was next as a good mixer. I then wanted to do Me and Martin Growing Old, and had the chance to talk about getting my GD Martin back in my hands. It developed into quite a chat about the Martin Guitar piece in the NYT this morning, the history of my GD Martin and then the song.
I followed with the Lessons from Pete poem. Lots of Pete fans in the audience. Again, it worked well as spoken word.
I played mandolin next. I talked about kids step dancing at RockRoots assemblies and played the jig medley transitioning into Mickey Mouse. Rosalie and Pat did not disappoint with the “Donald Duck’s” at the right time.
Giants. Always a glorious leap. I gave the Thunder Tube to a lady up front. She accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion. In fact, she was taller than me so I asked her to sit down for it (first chair, though). She was great. Lots of back and forth, and all in the right places, about tallness, life as a tall woman, and the combination of the Tube, the song, the audience and the woman and me became one of those magic moments on stage.
I invited Ron and Denny to finish out the afternoon on It’ll Be Me, a glorious blues noire tune with some nice moments, musical and comedic. Bo Diddley, with Denny refusing a bass lead. We did Kent’s Santa Assassin as an encore. Short and sweet, and thank you, good night.
What pleasure to stand at this nexus of friendship, art, folk music, intellectual community and my daughter, and shape the time and space in this incredible venue for 45 minutes or so (I did lose track of the time…)
It was an existential pleasure to play today. Drive back to PA and reflect on how good it can be.