I had plenty of time to get to the 3 pm start though I-95 was clogged up enough to make me wonder. This FM is on a large New England town green with a pretty sophisticated array of vendors, perfect for this upscale Yankee community and my former home town. Fish, meat, flowers, vegetables (lots of kale), fancy pizza, bakery goods, etc. Some of the vendors are folks I’ve know from over the years and they have come to appreciate my visits, especially since I do them acoustically and engage the children. I introduced myself to one new vendor who curmudgeonly said that he cannot talk with customers when some of the other acts plug in. I’m glad I’ve learned that lesson.

I have several benchmarks in these gigs. When is the first $1 put in the mando case? And, are there any non $1 bills in the case at the end? It seems the higher end the audience is, the lower these factors occur. Really.

People arrived and did their diligent shopping and cruised right by me for the first 40 minutes before one gentleman threw in a dollar. Several kids with their parents zipped by, and, even after offering my bag of tambourines, etc. they were not willing to commit.

The defining moment came in an act of desperation as two young women walked by with their dog. I decided to do “I Wanna Be a Dog” for the pooch. I laid it out and the girls enjoyed it but the dog had no reaction. Mid-song, I exclaimed that this was a tough an audience I had played for in a long while, and one of the ladies said, “The dog is deaf.” Perfect in so many ways.

Speaking of dogs, this particular FM seems to be an opportunity for these elites to showcase their exotic breeds. The dogs got more attention than my hand-crafted music.

Several kids and parents stopped by during the three hours and we connected. I gave away my Peanut Butter CD to the first kid who participated and eventually she and her older sister came back for some longer interactions. There were some very nice moments.

As I packed up, several vendors laid some kale and salad greens on me, the grumpy pie man admitted that I was quiet enough for him to make sales and the market manager thanked me for playing this market the way I do. It’s a tough market but I do it for the right reasons in spite of the performance challenges.

Bonus: I took time out to change my strings for the rest of the weekend.

No $5’s, all $1’s.