I returned to this annual concert, not as a player but as emcee. I really love playing a couple of songs on this magnificent stage with great sound and lights and hip audience. I’ve had some memorable experiences over the last few years – with Ansel Barnum on harp last year and Rob Stoneback on trombone the year before. But it got booked up fast this year.
I’ve emceed many times before and feel comfortable in adding my ‘talents’ this way, as well. It went well. More on that, in a bit.
The real reason I enjoy this gathering is reconnecting with all the musicians from the area, all donating a few songs to the event. Jazz, blues, gospel, folk, etc. – all fellow travelers and musicians trying to make our own way. It’s nice to have folks come and say hi, some I’m not familiar with, and some good friends.
The first emcee was Mark Twain! Actually it was George Miller, a talented character actor with deep roots in both Allentown and Irish theater. It turned out to be a good lead into my prepared remarks. Mark Twain was know for his pithy sayings, ironic outlook on life and his cultural wisdom.
I had prepared some “bumper stickers” from off the internet, and they seemed to be of the same sense of humor that Twain excelled in, just from a different century. I introduced four acts and had honed their very wordy intros into small and precise paragraphs, so I knew I could lay out four or five related bumper stickers spread out over my time on stage. The audience really enjoyed the interplay, the edgy and ironic humor as well as my interaction with them. Though I didn’t get to play, I did get to perform and I did well.
I’d rather play music, though.