My next set on Saturday was at a small tent among the vendors following a ballad workshop. The weather was starting to be somewhat iffy, but I moved into the small tent with my guitar and my bag of instruments. Again, the ballad folkies emptied out the area and there was me and a washtub bass player to start out.
I had suggested to the festival folks that I could run a Jug Band workshop. They took me up on it. I was glad they did.
It turned out to be a great session, and a curious connection with my Graveyard Skiffle Band gig at Godfreys the previous Wednesday night. Thanks to that gig, I had my jug band repertoire greased and ready (to some extent….). Several folkies showed up with kazoos, mandolins, an accordion, a banjo, a uke, a fiddle and other curiosities. I launched into Stealin’, KC Moan, St. James Infirmary and others that were great opportunities for the folks to strut their stuff in a safe folk space and we proceeded to stretch the music out and create a great atmosphere (with increasing moisture…).
To me, this turned out to be a defining moment of the festival for me. I was able to lead (and give up the lead) a session that was truly communal. Everyone had a chance to play, sing, take a lead, offer a song or direction and we had a great time. Even some of the kids and grandparents from my first show showed up and instantly got involved with the shakers, sunglasses and clown noses from my bag. These kids’ comfort zones affected the adults in the circle, as I reflect on this event now. Trans-generational. It was also the biggest audience of the weekend for me.
I exhausted my repertoire. I knew that I had under-prepared for this session but figured that the muse would arise. And it did, and wonderfully so. I suggested Good Night Irene as a closing song and it turned out perfectly. I started it out, folks sang along immediately. I sang the only verse I could remember, we played the melody. The accordion player stepped up and sang a verse – simply great. Then we all sang the chorus without any instruments. Bang. A ten-point landing.
Upon reflection, I wish each of my sets were as well attended. I would love to do main stage sets at this festival. But I take each opportunity as it comes. This was a good one, and completely unexpected, as well.
The rains set in for the evening.