I was still feeling somewhat of an outlier at this conference and was looking forward to the evening Round Robin or open mike, in my terminology. It was important, in my mind, to use this opportunity to make my artistic statement in front of all these folks in my biz and introduce myself as a performer and then as a fellow children’s musician. In that order, I supposed. 


I submitted my form with Giants, or an ‘energizer’ tune All Around the Kitchen. I suppose I was lucky that my slot was third amongst forty three. I was worried that folks might not arrive from dinner in time for my ‘set’.


The format was a rigorous ‘three minute, no introduction, state the song title and author and get off’. I can do that and Giants will do just fine.


I knew it was going to be a long night from the first gentleman who came up and plopped the words in front of him and said, “Here’s a song I wrote.” He proceeded to play all of the verses, all the chorus’s, and repeated the chorus several times. No sense of the performance strictures. Same with #2.


Great. That could only help me. I strolled up bare-foot (of course) and launched into Giants with no forewarning, knowing that this audience would know when to repeat the ‘bigs and bads and spooky sounds’ at the right time, which they did in grand style, of course. I did a vocal trombone lead, invited the crowd to join in, which they did in grand style. I finished it off and walked off the stage in under three minutes.


It was nice to know that I could do it with authority, as a professional musician, and use this as my introductory statement to this brand new audience. I think it worked wonderfully.


As the evening wore on, with numerous folks using tracks to back them up, folks with the lyrics in front of them, I began to appreciate the folks who played live, regardless of performance perfection, who did it live and from the heart. That’s what really impressed me. It seems many of these children’s musician perform to tracks, and that seems very much removed from something essential to the spirit of folk music. Not everyone can play the song and needs some technology to do the show. I’m a purest, but so it goes.


I got to see some pros Ive’ never seen do it well and in the moment. And the audience was incredibly supportive, but that was no surprise and always a pleasure to experience from within the crowd. Quite amazing, and, upon reflection, the very real strength of this organization. Again, these things came around to me on Sunday.


I realize much of my gratification comes from the good comments from my fellow artists/performers. I play for them as much as for the crowd. I know they’re listening and watching, so I really strive to perform at my best.


Over the rest of the conference, I was glad to hear…. It’s good to see the pros do it ….. you know what you’re doing….. nice performance …. great song and performance, etc. Over the course of the rest of the conference I enjoyed  the many ‘nice song last night’ and many  ‘they’re big, they’re bad’ asides from all these new faces over Saturday and Sunday.


I tried to make it through all 43 acts, including some folks I would have loved to see for the first time, but the aforementioned 5 AM departure from 4th Street in the morning tugged at my better nature to retire to my room at 10:45.


I regret not being able to stay up and play until 1:30 am. It would have been an incredibly rich experience to get to know these folks and let them get to know me off stage. But, unfortunately, those days are increasingly distant. I’ve got my limits. damn.


I look forward to Sunday.