I have cabin fever, or, more likely ‘no gigs’ fever, so I bugged Dina Hall to form a posse to head south of Easton for an open mike in Riegelsville, along the Delaware, hosted by fellow gigger/guitarist Andy Killcoyne. The Riegelsville Inn is an old tavern in a quiet town along a fairly peaceful section of PA, right next to a small bridge into NJ.
This Open Mike has has received some nice press, so there was a full house on hand in a very small and rustic room. Most of the musicians had to hang out in the hall or in adjoining rooms. Unfortunately that segregates the pickers from the patrons, though it puts some pressure on the performers to step up when they do their sets.
There were some great players in the house: harp, sax, bass, snare drum, and Andy on guitar. A good sound system as well. Very comfortable.
Dina and I were lucky that Andy signed us up ahead of time so we had space at a very crowded evening list. Dina did a nice set of three tunes, including a final slower ballad and it brought the house into focus. She continues to really grow as a performer, making good choices on the fly. I followed. Thank you, Dina.
It was a chatty crowd, and therefore I had them exactly where I wanted them. It’s been a while since I’ve played a bar, but its very little different than a gym filled with kids, a farmers’ market or a folk club. Hit ’em hard and early, give ’em something to do, and let’s rock and roll! So to speak….
I started with Don’t Call Me Early in the Morning, a Celtic tune that insists on singing along, and it also breaks the mold of blues/swing/American roots music of the evening. It got their attention. A fellow sat in on a snare drum as well as a bass player – a surprise to me – and they found spaces to help out, though not without having to get in touch with bass player on a sophisticated progression. but, I’m glad I can lead the band with my rhythm guitar chops.
(I learned this song from The Barra MacNeils, a Canadian band that I love. As I was leaving the tavern later, a man came up and said that he loved this tune. I remarked that I thought it pretty obscure. but he said that he was a fan of the band here in PA, but was vacationing in Canada’s Nova Scotia when he saw that the band was playing in a bar in their home town and caught them there! Yo!)
I followed with Giants, the killer audience-involvement tune I simply love to do because it: Connects. Every. Time. Mouth trombone, great interaction and a bass player who’s trying to cope. (He did good) God bless you, Kent, for this song.
I then had Dixie Chicken in mind for the third song. A Little Feat song that is an excellent jam song and one with a small but mighty following in the public. It really is fun to play, and has great spaces for me to lead with and spaces for the players to jam on. Mitch on bass, Andy on slide, Jimmy on harp. It cooked, it rocked. Women dancing in the aisles and folks singing along.
I love what I do, and I relish and savor these opportunities to continue to experiment with mixing live audiences with my creative juices.