I was honored to be asked to play the World Cafe at the Queen in Wilmington, DE today to kick off their Peanut Butter and Jams fall series. It’s an off-shoot of the WXPN series in Philly, so I was glad to be asked and looked forward to playing for a new crowd. I got some good airplay from Kathy O’Connell on her Kids’ Corner during the week, so I was also curious to see who would show up.
I got there early, as requested, and did my rather easy sound check on their Up Stairs stage (the Down Stairs is a fully outfitted theater stage) and had a good chat with Tyler, the young sound tech. We swapped stories, upcoming gigs and he gave me a tour of the place. Pretty amazing venue.
He told me of some of the kids’ acts, including a gentleman with a sophisticated video show behind him. I said I was from the Pete Seeger school, and he said, “Where’s that?” Hmmm. I am so off the grid.
As I was chatting with a family of mom, dad, grandfolks from Buffalo and a young girl, Tyler came up and said we should get started. 11:30 show time. So, I mounted the stage and started out with my audience of five and the sound man.
Two songs in, I realized it was ridiculous to be playing through the sound system, clued in by the reaction of the young girl. So, I motioned to the folks to gather around the stage and I would continue to play ‘unplugged’. Common sense. (Tyler commented as much after the show).
So, I played for these folks for next 45 minutes. I was lucky that all the adults were ready to participate and have fun so that’s exactly what we did. The toddler hung in for a remarkable span of time until ‘The Bear Hunt’; it kind of spooked her. Understandable. I did more of my ‘gentler’ songs in lieu of the dance tunes. We sang, chatted about playing for folks, shook a few eggs and engaged each other. I was appreciative of their attention as they were of my ‘show’.
I am glad that I can approach each gig as an opportunity perform to the best of my abilities, to connect with people, and not get saddled with the disappointment of the lousy turnout at a class venue. It’s still the playing that counts. “It’s not the fish, it’s the fishing.”
I did get to stroll down the street and drop in on David Bromberg’s Violin Shoppe and say hello to one of my heroes. He was doing Saturday morning business, and it was nice to see his wonderful shop in a very nice arts district in Wilmington.
I hope I get asked back to the World Cafe during a more active part of the series season. I hope those at the venue recognized my skills and invite me back. Again, I am reminded where I am in this vast expanse of performers and venues, trying to create a viable space for myself. It was a thoughtful drive home and I tried to balance the sunshine with the rain.