I took my time heading up to the New Tripoli winery from Spring Gulch. Not enough time to head home and and then head out on the road again for the evening gig. As I got close to the gig, I stopped by a small church and old graveyard, nestled in the rolling hills northwest of Allentown. There was a nice tree to escape the sun, and I took some time to meditate in this incredibly picturesque PA nook. It settled me in for the evening’s work.
This was the second visit to this winery, the last being inside the unheated building on a cold, damp fall evening. At that gig, I did my best to play to a small gathering, and it paid off with monthly gigs this summer outside the venue. I look forward to expanding my public gigs in settings that are not so bar-like. I welcomed this new venue for me. And. like the farmers’ markets, a chance to sit down for three hours and pump up my repertoire, old and new.
It was a simply gorgeous evening, with low humidity, a great sky over the vines stretched out in front of me. It doesn’t get any better than this.
There were only a few tables of couples and friends when I started, and immediately got the question, “What do you do?” I really don’t know how to respond without disappointing folks. “No, no CSNY, no Bruce, no James Taylor.” I only hope that I play well, engage folks as best I can and take it from there. This happens all the time, even at a winery.
I was glad to see my friend and college roommate Carl Zvanut show up. Seems he and his wife live next door (small world!), and they invited a group of neighbors down for some wine, food-truck food and community. They provided the core for the rest of the evening, responsive, intelligent and friendly. This gig could work out….
I was fighting tuning all night, with my mandolin and guitar. There comes a point when you just have to change your strings. It was tonight. I was never quite able to get my mandolin comfortable and the guitar was constantly in need of tweaking. But, I had three hours to deal with it.
As the local community group coalesced, I was able to chat more, introduce songs with a personal slant and try to bridge the gap. Surprises always happen, and when I finished Sailin’ Shoes, for me a filler tune, the folks burst out in applause. As I found out, one couple had met at a Little Feat concert at Brown University. Bam! These folks were invested in what I wanted to do. They gave me space to create.
.Another special moment happened when a young couple with a dog showed up. I played I Wanna Be a Dog and they loved it. The young woman came up to toss a five spot in my mando case and said that she remembered me from assemblies at Bridgeton and Tinicum schools in rural Bucks County. I said that I really loved those relationships I had with these two schools, especially Bridgeton which is now closed down. (I’ve played more closed schools than bars, at this point.) I gave her my Peanut Butter CD, and she and her husband were thrilled. They stayed for the whole evening. This is great stuff.
As the evening came to a close, this vista was simply wonderful. Friends chatting with other friends, couples taking time out for a glass of wine in the countryside, and a working musician finishing a long day on the road.
Bob, the vineyard manager, and the “waitress” (I was sure to give her part of my tips) said it went well, though not as folks as usual (thanks, Carl….) I consider it a good beginning for a new gig. Tips, sold a Troubadour CD, gave away a PB CD, got some good rehearsal on stuff I’m rusty on. Packed up the car and drove home after eleven hours on the road.
Now, tomorrow brings a Irish pub and a local farm. The tour rolls on.