I was asked to do a pro bono set at an old folks home on Monday, to help bring a little Musikfest to the residents. I haven’t done one of these gigs in a while, and I forgot the challenge that this audience requires, and how important music is for folks in these situations.
There was scepticism from some ladies up front when I brought out my bag with puppets, scarves, et al, but I explained to them why I carry these with me. I also knew that putting shakers, tambourines and maracas in their hands would be an important connection with them, some of whom were in relatively unresponsive modes. As I rolled through my songs, I added some tunes they would know (You are My Sunshine, Tennessee Waltz, Hank Williams tunes, etc.) and it was good to see them singing along as best they could. I did my other stuff, including Hannah, a young girl, volunteer and Fry fan from the past, who did I Wanna Be a Dog with me in front of the crew. I found myself drenched in sweat with the effort to entertain these folks who went to considerable effort to come down for the music. I also realized that I should have done my homework and brought more singalongs that they know, stuff I have packed in my musical library from similar gigs in the past. I can always do better.
The two ladies up front thanked me at the end and said they had a good time. A gentleman in the back who played tambourine waved goodbye. Folks visiting older relatives were glad I was there. There may not be applause at the end of each song, but we all chipped in, in our own way, to celebrate making some music together. It’s the best I can do.