I had several conversations at the Godfrey’s Concert reflecting on my place in the folk universe. I have always wished I could tour like so many of my friends on the circuit. I’ve felt that I had the performance chops to do it well, though I don’t have the songwriting credentials that most of the touring pros have. But, I’ve always thought that there is a place for folkies like Michael Cooney and others who can interpret the width and breadth of styles – bluegrass, traditional, blues, swing, contemporary songwriters, etc. That always seemed to be a legitimate performance niche on the scene.
There’s also the ‘Tom Chapin’ syndrome. Children’s music performers often are type-cast on the folk scene in spite of the fact that ‘we’ are experts in the the craft of folk performance – we are good players, instrumentalists and songwriters with a boat-load of good adult material as well. And we know how to connect with an audience.
But, I remained in the Lehigh Valley, playing in various folk, country, rock and roll bands, in school assemblies, as a solo folkie, as well as my life’s work at Godfrey Daniels, and, of course, raising a family. (especially the family part.) It was a choice I made, but I am still envious of the touring pros.
I talked with Vance Gilbert about this, as well as with my friend Bernie Toseland, a retired engineer. He sent me this note today that appealed to my old Lehigh engineering studies and though it quite satisfying.
“I was thinking our talking about your choice to stay home. I don’t know how much you remember from fluid mechanics. There are two points of view (using different coordinate systems). In one the Eulerian, you stand still and calculate as the flow goes by. In the other, Lagrangian, you move with the flow. Both give the same information, both see everything, it’s just that for some problems one is simpler to use than the other. So while you may regret not going on the road, maybe you got to see essentially the same thing just from a different point of view, and we got Godfrey’s.”
I think he’s right.
The Red Clay Ramblers commented on this many years ago. They always asked me about my gigs and how I was doing with my music. They said that there is the touring circuit and the home circuit, and both are equally viable and valuable for a musician’s creative being. I just have to step back and accept that, and know that I made a difference in my own community.