The Celtic Classic is in town this weekend and I tend to stay away due to the crowds and drinking, along with some recent immobility with my hips, so I was glad I picked up some sets at a new craft festival in Emmaus at the Wildlands Conservancy Center. The Fiber Festival was well attended and I ran into several friends attending, as well as some families who came to see me and stuck around. I had two hour sets on both Saturday and Sunday.
This particular nature sanctuary is a wonderful place; I took my kids there many times when we lived in Emmaus. Lots of trails, green lawns and shady trees so the place was hopping along with the various weavers, knitters, etc. gathering and celebrating their art with perfect, though hot, fall weather.
I was set up off from the artisan tents, near the mouth of one of the trails. They set it up nicely with bales of hay for seats in relative shade. It worked quite well, as folks stopped by as they drifted past. It was unseasonably warm (high 80’s) and I lathered up in sunscreen for the duration, brought out my mandolin, new Martin and my bag of instruments and pitched in. It was fun to play off of the ‘wildlands’ theme, often referring to what ‘wildlife’ might be behind me in the woods. No elephants, probably snakes and cats…..
I had the opportunity to interact with the kids, families and occasional elders who stopped by, and worked my magic as best I could. Still, some kids are incredibly shy when confronted with a guitarist who talks back, while some kids quite naturally just join in. It’s always a workshop. I like to watch the sibling relationships, perhaps an older brother/sister leading the way and I always try to get the parents and grandparents to play along. The foam noses come in handy when the three generations put them on, to the delight of the small kids.
On Sunday, one retired couple came up, sat down and stayed for the whole show, with the woman singing along, enjoying my repartee with the kids. Towards the end, as the families dispersed, she came up and grabbed a tambourine and a clatterpillar and started to play along. I commented that it was about time she joined in. She and her husband had seen me many times, especially at Mayfair and Musikfest so we chatted about the evolution of those two community festivals. I had the chance to share my philosophy on performance, how I engage the audience and involve the kids in the arc of the show.
The woman was particularly taken by my version of Here Comes The Sun, and hoped I would put it on my next album. I chuckled and thanked her. Though it remains one of my favorite songs, I thought that it remains a tune I would feel totally inadequate on a CD of mine.
Four hours of community music in a sylvan setting. The festival organizers were quite thankful for my participation and will ask me back next year. I’ll be there.