I was asked to put together a set of music for a Block Party celebrating Lehigh’s 150th Anniversary up at the Zoellner Center on Saturday afternoon. I put together Ed McKendry and Kris Kehr for this one and we were scheduled to play in a large tent outside the Arts Center. As it turned out, the hurricane dented quite a few outdoor events this weekend, but we we lucky that we could move inside the Black Box Theater in the Center for our set. There was a great sound system and good theater set up, with a steeply raked set of seats in front of us.
The harsh weather and typical Lehigh student apathy gave us a very small audience to play for – mostly Lehigh alum folks, some Godfrey’s people and one LU student. But one of my professors, Bob Lucas and his wife Joanne were in the house. These folks have followed my gigs for a long, long time, even coming to my kids’ gigs. I played at Bob’s 80th (??) birthday party this summer. I enjoyed this very direct link to my days at Lehigh in ’68 through ’73. I was able to make several references to those days during the set.
As we were about to start, the Lehigh student was checking his smart phone. Right off the bat, I singled him out to turn off his phone. He put it to the side. I said, ‘If you are going to be bored in front of us, please go outside. We are old school.” Amazing that I had to start the show like this. It did get people’s attention.
Don’t Call Me Early, Blue Heartland, Barrelhouse, Smokin’ Babies (?!), Lessons from Pete, Legends, Ed’s Godfreys OM song, Pay Bo Diddley, and a few others. It was great to play my prime adult stuff with Ed and Kris in a situation like this. I muffed a few lyrics in Legends and Lessons, so I felt less than pleased, but the mistakes were in my head, but enough for me knock a couple of points off my internal score card.
I also had a tough time connecting with the small audience. With little reaction in such a close performance space (the people are directly at eye level in this type of theater) I was feeling that my humor was lost on these folks. I was scratching my head.
The guys played great. Kris is solid on bass, and I’m strong on rhythm guitar and song presentation, so I don’t have to think about the core of the songs. Ed simply intuites the songs, knows how to hold out when he isn’t completely sure of the changes and then can really nail the leads and fills. The three of us gelled into a really phat acoustic sound – strong sings, vocals and rhythm from me, tasteful and crafty leads from Ed and solid bass support from Kris. As I said after a particularly fine ending, “We don’t need no drummer.”
We finished strong, but as several folks came up and said what a good set it was, I actually didn’t know if I could agree. Yes, we played very well but I couldn’t figure in the audience reaction factor. Strange feeling.
All in all, we did a really good job and I’m proud of the ‘show’ we did. Good tunes played well, in spite of a small audience on a stormy afternoon on the Lehigh campus. That will have to go down as B+ grade, pretty much around my average back in 1972.