I’ve been doing these particular banquet gigs for a while, and though I know things always turn out well, they always present a challenge for me. Lions clubs, Kiwanis, etc. usually book a speaker, a community figure or something else, and rarely is it a folksinger. So I’m dealing with folks who have no idea who this dude is with a guitar. It takes quite a bit of energy to engage and amuse these usually older folks.
I took Kim, the lady who booked me, up on the dinner before my set, so I settled in for carrots, filling, some ham and gravy, salad delivered by the ‘lunch-room’ ladies. Al, an older gent on my right spoke up and mentioned he had worked at the Bethlehem Globe Times in the late 70’s along with many friends I had on the writing staff. I was there often trying to drum up press for Godfrey’s. He knew about Godfrey’s from back then. Anyway, we proceeded to strike up some fine chatter about the SouthSide around that time, the life of an afternoon paper, the news biz, etc. An unsuspected dinner conversation.
I got tuned and headed for my session with these 40 or so folks, all of us bloated with PA banquet food. I decided to do it without a PA, and that was fine for the space and the situation. My job was to entertain, do some carols for 40 minutes or so.
We sang some Jingle Bells up front, added some of my off-beat holiday tunes, talked about the Philly Folk Fest, playing for kids, all segueing into one tune or another. I picked on a gentleman up front right away and he stepped up and was a good foil for the rest of the night. I found out later that he was chem. professor at a nearby college, so it only goes to show who helps out the show when called on.
It got hot ‘on stage’ with my sweater on, so put a good sweat on, and was feeling bushed at the end of the 50 minutes. People responded, singing, laughing and joking. It was hard work but satisfying,
I heard from Kim the next day that folks had a really good time. I also picked up Exchange Club family gig in the summer. Local gig, check, food, a future gig and done by 7 pm. That’s cool!