I took the long haul down Rt.100 to the Elverson area and the historic St. Peter’s Village for my second (actually third, if you account for last month’s double booking) performance at this coffeeshop/upscale pizza place in horse-owner country. It’s a hip place with an intelligent audience, though it is a Friday night, with BYO wine and some loud chatter. But it also includes families, some young kids and a chance to try to connect with people.
I play for tips in the mandolin case, potential CD sales (ha!), a pizza to go, a great loaf of healthy bread and a croissant. Not exactly a big pay day, but one I deem worthy. I get to play my kids stuff early, engage a toddler (who took to me like white on rice – boy- did we have a good time and helped engage the whole room), a nearby table of three kids and mom and dad. They put on shades and played the bag of instruments. The parents thanked me.
When all these easy marks left, I had the chance to open up my adult repertoire and enjoy the rest of the night playing my good stuff. Indeed, it was noisy but I could see various folks staying in tune, aware of what I was doing, and still enjoying the good food and company. Community.
A couple nice interactions included a couple asking if I knew any Alex Bevin tunes. I know one and it is a really good one I’ve done for years. It’s more on the introspective side, so I don’t easily mix it in with my up stuff. Rodeo Rider. I learned it from my pal Jaime Brockett and it’s a song about going for your dreams (10 years out of college, got nothin’ to show…) so it really means something to me. Steppin’ Out did it years ago, and even in recent GD’s show. It’s a killer song, and it’s really good with pedal steel and band, but sounds full on drop D guitar (my specialty!)
It sat that couple down, and I was pleasingly startled to make this rather cosmic connection. The lady said she was from Cleveland, the home of Alex Bevin. Yes, a few beats off the connected scale, but one that was pretty deep. I played the song well, and with meaning.
Another gent came up as I was loading in and was interested in my instruments. We struck up conversations about my Martin and my Gibson but was he was wise enough to see I was getting ready for the gig. Nice intuition.
Throughout the night, I sprinkled in some fingerpicking that I knew he would liked. It was nice to see his ears perk up in the noisy crowd. It’s these small signals that make the flow of the evening go. We had a chance to catch up when I was done and we traded tales of Mississippi John Hurt, and other great legends. Though he only claimed to play for himself, he was good, and I knew he knew the good stuff. Another connection across this vast and amazing folk scene. Reference points that are pretty striking.
I packed up and gathered my loot. Several folks at the larger parties commented that they liked the material, the guitar style and the interactive (as it were) skills that I displayed. Again, I love every gig I play, for reasons beyond the pay scale….