I have come to relish this particular gig in several ways, one quite surprising to me, in retrospect. I do two sets of family music at an early ‘seating’ at 9 am and then another two sets for the 12 noon seating. It is an amazing affair for the club to pull off logistically (the staff is great), it’s a wonderful day for parents, kids, grandparents and friends to gather and celebrate their family generations in style. I get paid well.
I particularly enjoy playing for these people, watching the ripple effect spread when I start with the first couple of kids that are immediately drawn to live music. Since I do this annually, some of the kids are primed from past years and are ready to roll. I have had the chance to watch them grow from year to years, and there’s always some warm smiles from the kids and the adults.
I open with instrumentals, some obscure carols I like to play, upbeat tunes and encourage the kids to come up to the bag ‘o toys and dig in. I play in front of this large wooden dance floor in the main room, with tables on either side. Kids come up, little girls with holiday dresses come up and twirl around. Here’s where the show begins. It’s simple to comment on these vignettes and share the moment with folks. And away we go, playing and singing with the kids. Moms, dads, grandparents come up, often holding and dancing with a relatively new child in their arms or enjoying open space.
I wish I had more chance to take in some of this magic, but I’m working my tail off trying to deal with the three, seven, twelve kids that are right in front of me. I mix in my kids stuff with the classic Christmas songs so I’m able to stretch out a fairly long set of activity. It’s hard work, especially with the two sittings.
I’m friends with Santa here, as well. JackMcGavin is a friend from folk times at Godfreys and a former newspaper writer. He’s a really good Santa, real beard and friendly nature. He comes into the dance area about an hour in, and I do my Santa Claus is Coming to Town / Here Comes Santa Claus / Up on the House Top medley while he dances with the kids, mingles with the folks for pictures. He does it well, and is a great foil in entertaining these folks.
I sampled: shrimp, oysters, smoked salmon, potato bacon soup, salads, filet, bacon….. The staff really puts on a show for the folks. They do it right. It’s nice to see happen. It’s two shows for them as well, and I believe they work a whole lot harder than I do.
No one is buying CDs anymore, not even at point of purchase, where you actually get to meet the performer in person. This is the backbone of product sales for itinerate business folks like me, the extra $5, $20, $50 that goes in the gas tank so you can put the check in the bank.
I appreciate that the club values my skills by being part of this Brunch with Santa every year. I did their Halloween single brunch the very day before my hip operation. The folks that hire me are always glad to see me.
I have surprised myself (matured?) in overcoming a slight ‘classist’ attitude of mine, somewhat envious of the relatively rich, while being a struggling musician supporting a family over the last 30 years.
What strikes me is that it is all about Families. It is the glue that binds us all, rich or poor or surviving: grandparents, husbands and wives, their kids of all ages. All gathering to celebrate each other, and I get the best seat in the house, playing guitar and singing.
Unfortunately, recent history has deprived me of having a large family Christmas experience, now confined to some precious hours with my son and daughter. But the chance to play music during this season, when people actually sing together and you can feel the love flowing, extends my Christmas outward for weeks. You know, that’s actually a large amount of friends and good cheer. That’s not to shabby, either.