It’s been a good summer for local gigs but this one was down in Jersey in West Deptford at the Free Public Library. It’s an hour and a half drive, standard for most Young Audiences gigs and the drive down was smooth.
I was greeted by the children’s librarian and I set up without a sound system in the community room. I was introduced to the teen aides that work at the library. I’m sure they didn’t know what I was all about.
A very nice crowd of 60 kids sat on the rug up front with parents and grandparents in chairs in the back. It was hard to get the kids to move up close; not ready to commit, for sure. But we backed them in.
Since this was a new venue, I was able to do my strong material and the show turned out very nicely. Lots of asides for the adults. But, it’s still hard to get the kids to participate from the beginning. I don’t think the kids get much audience skills these days. I made my little spiel about participating and creating community.
There are always some very bright and creative kids that jump out during the show. When I started Tutti Tah, one girl said, “Me and my sister know that one.” so I asked them to come up. It was cool to share the stage with kids on the second song and it helped warm up parents and kids right away. When we were done, the girl said she did Tutti Tah at her school, leading about one hundred other students in the performance. I took some time to explain that this was remarkable and essentially “folk”, being able to take these songs into her community. Special, indeed.
I was getting nothing from the ten or so teen aides, the ones who are supposed to help bridge the gap, but they aren’t schooled in how to let down their social guard and be ‘kids’. Understood. So, for Giants, I invited three of the teens up to play Thunder Tube and help break down the barrier. I asked them to make monster faces, but they couldn’t. But, it was important to involve them in the process.
For Names of the Animals, I broke out the bag of instruments, got them up dancing and the room was transformed into a party. At the end, I thanked everyone for coming out and invited the kids to come up and give me five. I only sold one CD – this is a sign of the times, folks.
The drive home was through a torrential rain storm but got home around 2 pm. It was a five hour day but a rewarding one all around. The library will have me back.