I finally got to play at my neighborhood farmers’ market on Thursday. It was good to be back among the vendors, Lehigh folks, etc. so set up early and walked up from 4th Street with my mando and guitar to the gig at noon. I rolled into my strong stuff right away and it felt good to be back. I tried out “I Can See Clearly Now” early on when one of my good friends Hope strolled down the stairs. She’s got a superlative voice and I shouted out that I could use her harmonies on this one. Later on, she emailed me that she was taken by surprise by the song, not knowing it was me, appreciating my ‘beautiful’ voice and good guitar work. “I did not know whose sweet voice was singing “Bright Sunshiny Day” as I came down the hill from my office. Sweet guitar, too. The timing sounded a little like Dave Fry, but as a singer, Dave Fry owns words like “powerful,” and “stylin’,” and “charismatic,” and “gritty.” I have never heard your voice sound so — well, pretty is the best word for it — as it was on that song. That was absolutely lovely. Bravo, dear friend. May your music never stop being surprising and fresh!” Kind words from a friend. It made my day.
It got weird though after that. I notice a film crew on the scene, asking permission from the market manager. They cruised in on me, the surrounding area, my bare feet and my guitar work. This is cool. The man and woman in charge then asked me if I could be interviewed, specifically about the SouthSide Bethlehem’s history with the decline of the Steel Mill in town. Why not, since I have survived it.
I learned then that it was a Russian TV crew. That’s weird. So, they miked me up and we chatted on camera about the shift of the steel industry into the arts industry, why I play in bare feet, the demise of the steel company (greed on the part of the unions and the management), the great diversity of ethnic neighborhoods on the SouthSide, the fight for arts in the Valley and other subjects. I was pretty frank.
They asked for a song, so I unwrapped “Ten Men” from David Mallett, a tune we’re working on for the new CD, and a most politically charged tune. (I still screwed it up in my mind). It was long so they’ll never use it all. But here I was playing socialist music for Russian television. Not what I had planned for the afternoon.
The rest of the gig passed gently, with some mom’s and their kids stopping by, some foreign folks on campus for a seminar on lunch break (one African lady joining in on tamborine). and some superb summer weather. All in all, a surprisingly wonderful gig.