It was another long haul up to my old home town of Madison to play on the Madison Green for this farmers’ market. It’s an upscale market which presents its own challenges and a few rewards. I enjoy the challenges.
Folks come early to buy the fish market’s scallops, etc. and form a line waiting for the 3 pm start. I sometimes point my chair right at the line of clientele (since there are no kids at this point) and play some pretty good acoustic music for them. Absolutely none of them even approach my tip case. There is no recognition of my art.
So, I turn my chair to the empty village green, spread out my bag of instruments and troll for kids and families. I mix stuff I want to play (adult) and respond when kids, parents and grandparents get the idea that we will play together. Over the course of the three (3!!!) hours, I am able to connect on this micro-level with kids and their folks. It really is pretty intense work, but I’m good at it. For the last hour, young families gather on the green, the dads talk with the dads, the moms talk with the moms and I deal with their kids. If folks are engaged within my radius, there are some very precious moments. And that’s what I work for.
This is a particularly parsimonious community. I really struggle to make some tips. (Yes, I get paid $100 for the gig) But I gauge my engagement with the tips. It’s a sign that people value my craft.
I often am glad that the parents put a dollar in their kids hands to put in the mando case. That’s part of the acknowledgement. Today, I reflected on the fact that they give the kids a dollar. What value does that imply, not only for the kid but for the parent. I’ve entertained your kids while you socialize with your friends. That’s pretty big bang for your buck.
Very few of the upwardly mobile dads care and are busy taking a meeting with their buds. Especially when I asked for folks to retrieve my instruments, scarves and puppets that are now scattered about the green. This is Connecticut Culture and it’s what drove me insane during my ten years up here.
I frankly enjoy the trip up and back in my car. I have time to ingest full CD’s, my old radio shows and some leftist podcasts that keep my mind engaged. I guess that’s why I do this.