It was a wet beginning this morning, with a chance of some sun during my set at 10 am. I was hired to supply sound and do the opening set at a relatively new (3rd year) fine arts festival in Hellertown on Saturday. Again, I do it for some friends on the committee and the chance to play acoustic music in my community. The other performers hail from the Godfreys open mike crowd, and I’m glad I can add to the energy of the group.
When I arrived they showed me to a tent down by the Creek, but there was a mobile food vendor running his generator close by, and I had to tell the festival folks that it was not going to work, thinking of my fellow players who would have to deal with this for the next 7 hours. We moved quickly back to the spot we did last year, next to the historic house near the road. It was the right move. Pretty cloudy to start with.
I set up as quick as I could, with help and opened to no one near me, but to the artisans spread out in tents across the lawn. I’ve learned that the music is as much for the artists as it is for the public. They have to endure a very long day of set up, a hope for sales to offset the entrance fee, and potential patrons passing by. It’s a particularly tough way to make a living. I know. I can relate.
I was warmed up from the Bakery gig the night before, and nailed it from the first chords of Don’t Call Me Early. I was surprised with this strong opening (at 10:15 in the morning) and fed on it for the next hour or so. This is going to be a good session.
I tried a mandolin tune early, but my strings told me, “You better change us soon”. Mando-wrasslin’.
The sun came out briefly and I leaned on Here Come’s the Sun, of course. I started out slightly out of tune, stopped, and evoked George Harrison, swearing to honor him and the song, by tuning up. It remains one of the tunes that I measure myself with – it’s a bitch to play exactly right, and with feeling. I came close today, again.
A little later I had the chance to float a new song for this situation. I have always loved Johnny Nash’s Bright Sunshiny Day, and had downloaded the lyrics. Yesterday, as I went through my woodshed file, I found it, and ran through a rough version of it. It was on deck. It was really fun to play, it started to fit and, with the support of the next folks on stage, we massaged the great chorus into something that clicked with me. I know how to make this a new ‘keeper’ in my set. And the sun stayed out for the rest of the day. I have some work to do on the song, though.
I particularly enjoyed today. I love playing through a sound system, outside in pleasant weather, for artistically engaged people, next to an old PA stone building, playing my repertoire on this old Martin. I had a fine canvas in front of me today and I was able to create. Good stuff.