I had actually been losing sleep over this RR at a middle school in Clinton, NJ today. The Monday gig had shaken my confidence in the middle section, too much thinking going on. I decided to get out the old set list file, run through some of my lines and reacquaint myself with this part of the show. It was a function of only three gigs this fall, Steve, our new guitarist, and a certain rust on my part with the show. With our fine new guitarist, I found I was worrying about his cues, riffs and other minutiae that distracts me from my main job – the audience connection.

The audience was 400 7th and 8th graders on the morning before early dismissal before the holidays. It was bound to have some good energy, and it really turned out that way, due to several surprises along the way.

The middle school decided (as I found out, after the fact) to put both grades together for the show. Often, we’ll do all the 7th and then all the 8th, and most likely the 8th graders sit on their hands. Together, there was great energy between the grades, and the teachers, as well.

The music teacher, Steve Schaffer, a marvelous professional electric guitarist, sat in on the Walkin’ Blues and MoJo Workin’, and he was spot on. It was great to watch the audience respond to their own music teacher (and Teacher of the Year !!!). How rare an event is that at middle school?

The show was smooth, thanks to my 5 minute chat with the band about the areas I had my problems with. We nailed the tough parts and I came away feeling good about the tightness of the show. I had to put in the time and effort ahead of the show, and in small, definable spaces to get myself back on track. I also solved my technical problems on mandolin so I wasn’t blind-sided with Monday’s snafu. Isn’t that what a pro is supposed to do?

A very nice gig and a revival of sorts.