The first of three gigs today began on the SouthSide at Arts Quest’s Saturday Family Series. I was somewhat surprised that it was outside in fairly chilly but sunny weather. I was glad I had my sweatshirt and down vest in the car. A gorgeous day, and quite a few families, grand parents and kids filtered in for the show. It was good to see a crowd gather for the show.
I had invited my good friend John Christie to sit in on guitar and he brought dobro, electric and acoustic guitars with him. That’s okay by me, since he’s a pro on all of them. We had done a three hour gig at an Allentown museum several months ago and it seemed such a dreadfully short time to play together today.
The kids broke into the bag of instruments early so John and I got to play some ‘real’ songs, including a delightfully ironic ‘Shovelin” blues number, in spite of spring time and still chilly conditions. It was nice to see the adults groove to the musicianship on stage while the kids were busy playing shakers, etc. I still think that this is part of what I can do, that many other kids’ performers don’t do: play the music up to adult standards, give some mature comments on the situation to the parents and grandparents, and still really connect with the kids.
Several kids really wanted to get up on the stage with us, and I find it a good theatrical device to use in these situations. It drives the sound guys nuts, but so it goes. Today was a good mix of up on stage, down off stage, sit down and listen, get up and dance, etc. Its a real challenge to balance all these interactions, but I have a good selection of songs that can navigate these tidal performance dynamics.
It’s also wonderful to work with musicians like John who can anticipate my ‘on-the-fly’ decisions, help me stretch tunes when the kids are dancing with great guitar craft (I’m listening!), and still disappear when I do the Peanut Butter and Jelly routines. I don’t need no band with brothers like John Christie.
I had great interactions with many good folks today. One little girl came up and said, “Good job, Dave Fry.” That was enough for me. These connections, some from long times’ past, and some from five minutes ago, are what continue to amaze me, and thereby energize me as an artist. Thanks.