So, the big date came around for my collaboration with the kids’ band No Pressure. We had run through the two tunes at the Tally Ho on Friday night and at several visits to the home basement studio. I was finally comfortable with my role with them, and confident of their skills in pulling them off in front of people.
We got there early enough for a thorough sound check with time to check in as a band with Superdad Bob Sedlock and myself, and go over some of the finer points. Bob got his stuff said and I got to do my locker room pep talk, saying, “This is a special time as a band together. There will be a big stage and an audience full of players, so let’s move around, smile, have fun and enjoy this great situation. It doesn’t get better than this.” I also said that when the last song is over, the audience will expect some emotion so let’s show them some joy and high-five each other, show that we are kids. So we headed down to the stage to get ready for the opening of the show.
It was good that we were up first. After the pipe band rolled through, and Rob Stoneback’s great rendition of Star Spangled Banner on solo trombone (it was very cool), we got up on stage and plugged in and waited for the introduction.
It took forever (we couldn’t even see the disc jockey emcee) and after some flat jokes and comments like ‘I know every one of these musicians’ (not), the introduction of Wyatt and his cancer story (Wyatt came up and shared a snare with an old rocker Vini to the side of the band, it was cool), we finally got to start. ….and they forgot to announce the name of the band.
We nailed both tunes. I couldn’t be prouder to share this moment with them. I could feel the audience collectively gasp at first at the band’s tightness (surprise!) and then connect with this energy on stage. The kids really did fine and the sound was fat, the grooves tight and we left the stage on a great high. We remembered to high-five and that came off great. I was into it, moved, looked at the players, did my strong acoustic chops in support. It was a treat for me to be on stage while this all happened in front of me. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to play in front of a sophisticated Lehigh Valley music crowd.
In between songs, after I rechecked Drew’s tuning on his electric (he went from capoed 1st fret to open, we knew he would be off, we knew we had to do it quick and right – we did and I was proud of him doing it) and made my move. I had though about this over the last day or so. I was wearing my baseball hat in the proper manner, as I do, but shouted out to the crowd, “Wait a minute!” and then turned my hat around backwards. It got a very good response especially from the vets like me in the audience. As I commented on FB, I said the band needed me to establish some street cred. It was a subtle play on the old fart/young kids situation and was not lost. It was my mini-signature; it was small and didn’t take away from the band. Good and cool.
The kids got to hang out afterwards with themselves and their beaming parents up stairs. They got the green room treatment, got to meet Chubby Checker who was there for a special award. He actually complimented one of the kids afterwards. It was a great experience for them and a memorable one. I was glad I could share it with them. We are now truly connected, and that was the whole point of this collaboration, period. Mission accomplished.
The awards were rolled out, along with some interesting guest sets. The show production was so much better as to not be as distracting as in other years. The sound crew was great as well.
I was awarded Best Children’s Performer and shortly thereafter No Pressure won the best Kids Band not associated with a school. They were off to the side of the stage when it was announced and it was cool to seem them jump for joy, along with Bob, the master dad in this equation. I gave them a thumbs up from my seat, and they returned the gesture to me for my award.
I spent the rest of the affair cruising the place, running into friends and fellow players, accepting congratulations for my award and for the No Pressure set together. The parents thanked me for my help and it was great to see the kids be kids, hanging out and taking in the whole scene. Top of the world.
I was disappointed not to claim the Folk award like I have several times in the past, especially since I continued to desire to be recognized for my ‘adult’ performance skills (Tom Chapin syndrome). But there were disappointments for my fellow Godfrey’s friends who didn’t make it either, especially Anne Hills (who should have won), Dina Hall, Mike Duck and several Godfrey’s nominations that didn’t pan out. Such are the limitations of this process. Same ole folks win the same old prizes. I’d love to see some retirements, and would accept my own if it meant recognition of new folks.
But I remind myself that I did get recognized for what I do best and I got to showcase on stage with some really fine young players in front of my peers. I don’t think these other veteran players could have done what I had just done. There ya go.
More on the No Pressure band and what I learned and gained from this interesting project. It was an epic gig.