There were two packed seatings for the annual Santa Brunch at Brookside Country Club. The economy must be humming. I do two sets of kids/holiday music for the families, one at 9 am and another at 12:30 pm. The families arrive and, as folks settle in, I do some mandolin tunes, some of my arranged Christmas carols, and, as the kids finish up their fabulous buffet, I encourage them to join me and my bag to jam.

It’s particularly nice that I have a strong history with the club, the parents and grandparents, the staff and, especially, with many of the kids. The older kids are accustomed to the routine, and the toddlers are simply curious. They are the ones who really like to engage. They sneak up on me sometimes and I find them right next to me. They also are drawn to the guitar, the green light on my amp, and the immediate fact that here is somebody making music in front of them. I take my job seriously and play right to them. The electricity is palpable.

The first set featured a cool kid at the front table; I noticed that he was grooving to my music. And, as the set developed, he started doing some dancing, etc. for his family. I worked him and his family and eventually had him come up for my Rudolph set. He killed it. I gave him my Playground CD as thanks. The payoff was at the end of my set when the grandfather came up and said he had never seen his grandson perform like this and that his kid had broke out of his shell. Curiously, the kid came up with a $5 tip in is hand and gave it to me. Very curious, in many ways.

The second set featured a raft of kids ready to go from the get go. Toddlers were on my left, young girls in front of me and the bag erupting to my right. There was a table of young girls reserved right in front of me. Thus my first photobomb!

I shaped my sets differently this time. Usually I try to do the whole two hours, but, today, doing a strong, long set with a build-up and “finale” worked really well. There is an exclamation point in the performance and the audience gets the idea that there is a shift in the proceedings. And it proved true for both sets. Families started to gather their kids and, importantly, the wait staff had a chance to work towards wrapping up. We are in this together. (I was a busboy a long time ago) This is quite a production for Brookside CC:  food, service, Santa, me, decorations, etc. and they do it very professionally. It is a major production all around. It is amazing to be part of it. (and I had some really, really good food!)

They also hired my friend Jack McGavin as Santa. He’s a long time friend who is really good and authentic at what he does. We had a good chance to catch up between seatings, exchanging our personal struggles and our continued friendship.

What continues to strike me is the power of music to transcend generational, economic and cultural barriers. What’s important is the intergenerational glue that keeps us connected – family. I got to bond kids, parents and grandparents together through my music, food, community and celebration.

I am blessed to do what I do. Today is the proof.