I was honored to be a part of this small river town’s centennial along the Delaware River. There is a wonderful community of musicians and their supporters that put together this afternoon of music, food and great weather. I opened the music portion in the park at 1 pm, following a parade and some speechifying.
The parade was delightfully local, and I really liked the tractors, some mighty fine rigs, down Rt. 611, the main street in town. This is going to be good. It recalled a gig I had in Germany for their 1100th birthday. There, the tractors festooned with flower garlands, pulling wooden wagons and the townsfolk impersonating the many people that had moved through their history, including Neanderthals. It was a riot.
I got there early to scope out the situation, and I’m glad I did. Some good friends had put together this afternoon and was able to make a difference in area I was to play. There was a tent overlooking a rather vast macadam surface, in the June sun. Not good for encouraging close contact. One friend was concerned with sound projection for the park, but we worked something out that was good. Nice to add my expertise. Close up music, I suppose.
I set up in the shade underneath the basketball net – in the shade, with chairs and tables nearby. I got out my kid lures, used Andy’s little guitar/vocal amp, chatted with the reenactors cooking bacon behind me, and set out to play for a small crowd. Some familiar adult faces from my sets at the Riegelsville Open Jam, a couple of families who had no idea who this guy was, and a couple of kids who didn’t care.
I enjoyed mixing up my regular set, putting some of the strong, tail-of-the-end-set stuff up front. There are always great moments of interaction with each and every person there. Grandmothers are easy, dads are hard and there are always tough-sells among the kids. Each gig has its performance choices: artistic investments with the folks in tune with what I’m doing, reaching out to the hesitant and shy, connecting with older folkies who understand folk music. And then there’s “Who wants to dance?” Same as playing in a bar.
It remains very difficult to maintain an audience for the full 50 minutes, especially in a situation like this. In a controlled assembly or concert, I can do that. I can’t blame them, especially when I consider this new culture of instant entertainment, when the individual has assumed the right to terminate the ‘artistic contract’ of live music. This is a crucial topic I will take up shortly. Curious.
As I was playing, my colleagues from this musical community took note of the shady spot I had figured out and moved all the sound and staging from the distant corner and brought it up to my site. I was glad that they responded to my instincts. Friends in my community.
I got a compliment from one of the reenactors as I drove off, and, in return, I got some nice woodsmoke (and baconsmoke!) on my clothes and equipment for the ride home.
Music in the community.