I wasn’t sure what kind of audience to expect for this Saturday morning set, the day after Christmas. There was a small crowd, though taking up most of the chairs and tables. Good enough.
Sure enough, I broke an A string on the first song, Peanut Butter, but tried my ‘Whooo’ exercise, using the space to have the audience experience the echo effect. Essentially it’s a good way to have the audience a sense of self. It worked. And, as I changed my string after the song, I told the story of my Trenton Crypt experience this summer – I used this echo technique for the first time in a very unique space and a particularly tough teen audience. It was a Zen moment, and it worked today, as well.
I was glad, once again, to have my friend John Christie on guitar for these shows. It’s a relatively tough space to play in. It’s essentially in a two story mall, with the sound system in the ceiling, hard surfaces of glass and steel and uncomfortable chairs. Not much of a performance space. John gives me the opportunity stretch songs with his leads, especially with some of my lesser known songs like Jelly in the Dish, Tropical Vacation, Shoveling, and more. His leads are classy and have great edgy feel that is ear-candy for the adults in the audience. Who says it has to be all for the kids?
There were wonderful moments with the kids up front with instruments, beaming for their grandparents and furnishing me with some great connections with kids, as well as the adults watching these kids have fun. Grandmoms are alway ready to dance and lead the way in these shows.
I have some nice folks who have followed me through several generations and today featured a Lower Milford ES teacher, her kids and her hip mom. Three generations. They asked for Baby Shark, and they told me before the show how this song was part of their family tradition, and in a very strange and wonderful way.
The teacher’s wedding was on the beach, and her father dressed up in a shark suit and got everyone to do all the motions in the song. I really wish there was video of this. I really love hearing the back stories to my music – trips to Washington state listening to my tapes, simply singing in the car, Bear Hunt bedtime rituals and other precious moments that I have no idea about, as well as my active part in keeping the flame lit. I am doing my job well.
It was a good, crisp and friendly (good chat) ‘show’, with kids dancing, parents beaming, grandparents dancing. John is a good friend and talented guitarist who supports this part of my music. He’s really good, and doesn’t hesitate to put down his guitar and Tutti Tah with me and the kids. That’s special, but then again, he is a teacher.
One of the ‘ah ha!’ moments happened away from the action. We were doing Baby Shark, with kids, adults up and dancing in front of me. Off to my far right, two older gents were sitting in some of the plush couches, I noticed immediately that one of the men was doing the Baby Shark hand motion. He got his friend to do it, too. I knew I had hooked them. As the tune progressed, I made connection with them and they both were doing it, with me and with each other. Theater.
They both eventually got up to walk out, and as they were leaving, we did the grandma hand motion together. Even as they were exiting the performance space, we connected.
I have a broad pallet to work from whenever I perform. Kids, my fellow musicians like John,
grandparents, moms, dads, as well as the folks working in the house.