I was back at Plaza Tropical for a two hour family set with my friend John Christie. It was nice to see kids, parents and grandparents file in close to show time, and we had a good first set full of kids banging on instruments and dancing, the older folks singing along and some good musicianship from John on his wall of guitars. It was a shame that the sound crew was asleep at the wheel during the show, with John’s dobro and acoustic lost in the ozone with no one in sight at the board. The sound over all was weak and added to a certain discomfort on stage. So it goes when you are the opening kids show on your fine stage. No excuse.
I went with a lot of my old stuff, partly because that’s what I think folks wanted, and with a big crowd, I wanted to do my A material. John, of course, stepped up with some fine leads and added a very nice dimension to the overall sound of the set. I had enough chances to apply my asides to the adults that the old songs still had some entertainment cachet.
Being on an elevated stage with little access to bringing up kids proved to be a deterrent, with stage hands nowhere to be seen. I also had little ability to guide the kids towards putting down some of the instruments and participating by singing along, as well as with ‘hand motion’ songs. There was an element of chaos involved, but we plowed through.
After an hour, we took a break and the tent emptied out. Families took off for food, rides, etc. and we were never quite able to regain a critical mass of an audience. That’s the trouble with doing a two hour set for a family show. The attention span simply doesn’t allow my act the flexibility to do one hour and a half show straight through (which is possible) and forces me to break half way through.
The second half was good, though in front of a smaller audience. I was wet with sweat after the end and pretty wrung out energy-wise. It turned out to be quite a work out, but with John’s craft on guitar, we managed to play a large portion of my repertoire, and play it well. It was also nice to bring out my banjo, mandolin and guitar for one of these gigs.
In the audience was Beorn Sunflower with his new family. He joined me on stage during the first days of Musikfest as a precocious boy guitar player. It was a very nice ‘full circle’ for both of us.