I had an early family set at the Philly Folk Festival on Friday in Dulcimer Grove, the designated kids area. I followed Ms. Rachel who had a band and a good crowd of toddlers on hand for her 11 am set. I was hoping folks would hang out for my set but it was not to be.

I didn’t open the bag early enough and tried to do my cognitive kids stuff early on and families drifted off. The stage has been updated nicely, with an able sound crew, but there is still serious bleed from the Camp Stage about the Grove. The stage monitors are still at an amateur level and it remains a relatively uncomfortable place to perform, at least today. It is really difficult to establish a creative center on this site, with the sound conflict and folks passing through in the background between other stages.

I decided to start standing up but eventually settled into an uncomfortable folding chair. Folks drifted off during the set with few dancing children up front. I will address this on Saturday.

Eventually, as I opened up the bag, kids drifted up and became engaged. Again, the scarves seem to open things up for me and we explore them with Jelly in the Dish. Folk drifting by in the background were stopping to take notice. I finished with Keep a Knockin’ but kids do not know knock-knock jokes and don’t even pick up on the routine. Jeesh…

It felt like doing a gig with a bar next door. I still am hesitant to pander to the sing-song kids’ music crowd and still wish to address the kids as sentient beings. Some folks recognize this (including the festival volunteer, the sound guy and other kids performers) but there is still something missing in this contemporary suburban family culture.

It was a lot of work, but it got me in the festival so I shouldn’t complain.

More tomorrow, with a Pete Seeger workshop and another set here in Dulcimer Grove.