Somewhat bouyed by the afternoon at Moravian Hall, I set up for my hour set in the Touchstone Cafe. I got there early enough to chat with my very good friend Bill George about the show, the writing, and general quality of what the ensemble does. Bill continues to amaze me with his mastery of movement, delivery and general skills as a performer. I value his friendship like few others in my life. I had a chance to share with him about the awkwardness of the evening before, so that was good, and it’s what friends are for. He had to head backstage for the warm-ups, but it was great to touch base with my brother.
The crowd gathered slowly into the Cafe, so there were nice moments with folks who had come early to hear me. It was neat that the room had a weight to it as other folks came for the show and peeped into an active performance cafe space, so there was some good creative mojo going on. Again, good response to the bluesier numbers that I can really roll on, and, of course, Santa Assassin does the trick. Folk filtered out with some nice connections with new and old faces. Some folks stayed on purpose. I notice these things.
There was one person who didn’t get it though. She was a teenager, by herself and at the theater for the first time. She struck up a conversation with a young intern folding programs at a table, a fellow she knew from somewhere. She was really interested in this new space, but continued her conversation while I was playing to an otherwise listening crowd. Aw well, so it goes. Understandable, but it took something away from an otherwise good set of connections with the other folks.
I had decided to forego the intermission tonight. I was uncertain of testing my fragility from the night before, though a certain said couple would not be back. I had just done an exhaustive session in Nazareth, so I begged off on the second set. So I finished off to an empty room with a Cockburn song that I continue to chisel out into a performance song. It’s not easy.
I’ve been working on Cry of a Tiny Babe, a Bruce Cockburn song that has really dug into my Christmas psyche, if only in my more private moments. It’s the Christmas story, wonderfully written with some contemporary idioms (Joseph and Mary “head out for the boarder and get away clean…”). It also brings the concept of ‘the eyes of a tiny child’ into our present, expressing the HOPE for a new age of understanding in today’s cultural strife and inequities. It’s also a wonderful chord progression and a joy to play on guitar.
As I packed up, the woman who was volunteering, serving coffee and snacks, came up and wondered what was that song I finished with. I went into my Bruce rant. But I came away with how, for the first time, someone other than me recognized the power of that tune, and that, somehow, I had managed to pull it off, as they say, ‘with feeling’. It was quite the rewarding feeling for the evening.
I packed up and looked forward to a long day at Brookside Country Club. Gonna pay the bills tomorrow.