Who is my agent anyways?
So, I drove up to the Madison Farmers’ Market and back for the halibut. 400 miles, 8 hours on the road, 3 hours of music on the green for $75, $19 tips and 1 CD sold. A good trip, actually.
I allowed an extra hour for my arrival, and, of course, I got there at five minutes ahead of ‘show time’. No problem. I play this one without a sound system so I set up along the walk of vendors and set into playing. Not a busy day and few families early on. And those folks cruising the stands paid little attention to the quality music being played in their midst. Invisible and unheard. I tried to reframe my classist attitude and play my songs. Several elder ladies took notice of my music, stopped and listened and applauded (the sound of two hands clapping…). That was fine by me and I thanked them.
Eventually a few kids and parents stopped by, picked up shakers and I went into kid mode. For some kids, especially young ones, I’m am a scary dude because of my intensity. They are intrigued by the sound and the live music, but when I make eye contact, they rush to the legs of their parents in states of shyness. I go on with the song, avoid the eye contact and hope that the kids take in the situation and relax. Here’s where the support of the parents in crucial. Often I have to encourage the parents to pick up a shaker and model playing it. It’s not always obvious to them (they are uncomfortable themselves) so that’s important.
There were many nice moments with the kids and the parents, as well as those who picked up on the energy as they passed by. Even so, in this very well-off community, there were only tips of one or two dollars, summing up to $19 over three hours.
The town drunk stopped by on his bike towards the end. His nickname was ‘Madison’ and he said he was no saint and that all the cops knew him. He picked up some tambourines and joined in as the afternoon wound down. He offered to help be pack up and that was, for me, a very big help, and worth more quite a bit more than the indifference of the rest of the Madison community.
Still, I thrive on the interactions with the kids, the appreciation of the young parents and grandparents that share these small moments with me on a New England Town Green on a Friday afternoon in June.
Driving to and from the gig, I spent the time listening to my Bruce Cockburn collection, many of which I had not listened to in concentrated times, so it was time well spent in traffic. A bonus for me.
Tomorrow, an 80th Birthday celebration for one of my old Lehigh professors.