This is a fairly prestigious folk festival near Morgantown, PA in the heart of Amish/Mennonite country. In fact, as I drove through this wonderful agricultural area, I passed numerous horse-drawn buggies with kids in bonnets and hats staring out the back of the wagons, coming back from church services. Lots of girls in long dresses and bonnets biking down the hills. I love it.
I was initially booked for the Saturday but found out later that it was the same date that my son Jaimie graduates from Moravian. I have to admit I thought about begging off Jaimie, but that thought was quickly plucked from my conscience. I quickly emailed the folks from the festival and they graciously offered the Sunday slot. Phew and double phew.
The festival is run by some friends from the Philly Folk Fest so there are familiar faces from my gigs there over the years, including the sound crew guys from here in Bethlehem. I was quite comfortable and appreciative to be asked to play here for the second time.
The festival has always booked excellent acts, many of whom play here at Godfreys and are good friends over the years. I’ve always thought that I would fit in on this schedule. My slot seems to be, of course, the family musician that starts off the festival at noon on the Saturday or Sunday. That means I usually have to begin in front of tens of people, if that, so I have to start from scratch. That’s part of the job description so I don’t mind, though it would be nice to start in front of a crowd of some critical mass.
Today, there were a few kids as well as some stalwart festival folks so I launched into I Like Peanut Butter, got the kids to dig into the bag o’ toys on the grass in front of the stage and tried to engage those in attendance. The show doesn’t start til I do. I also realize that the sound does go out into the camp grounds and folks are listening vicariously as they do their Sunday morning camp chores, read the paper, relax.
I try to play to the kids, but I’m conscious of the adults as well. That’s why I sprinkle my adult observations along the way. (One older couple came up afterward and remarked they liked my set more than several of the more serious acts) Today, I also got the kids to come on stage several times during the set (Tutti Tah, Peanut Butter and Jelly and Knock, Knocks), spread out so as to not overdo the novelty. Indeed, the parents get out their cell cameras and take pix and videos of their kids on stage, and that’s all to the good, and part of what I want to do. Dog and Pony and Kids Show.
I did a strong show, the promoters, sound crew, volunteers and audience had a good time and I got several nice compliments from them all. I even sold several CD’s! It’s a good showcase for other gigs in the Philly Folk Fest crowd, so I value this particular gig, even though its a noon opener. Unfortunately I really don’t get to play for my contemporary folk musicians who play later in the day.
I had to leave directly after the gig because I had a two-year old’s birthday party booked for later that afternoon. I did get to say hello to Gene Shay and some other festival friends before I left. But it was a beautiful day, a nice ride through gorgeous PA country side and a well-paying gig at that.