On the final day of Musikfest, I performed in the studios of TV-39, our local PBS station for the last day of their 10 day Summer Jam series. For me, it’s an honor to be part of this run since the other performers are, for the most part, national family music professionals. I’m still a little uncomfortable to be in this fraternity. As it turns out, the crew and staff at the station think I’m right there.

Only a few weeks ago, the sessions were scheduled to be in front of two sets of kids and parents in the studio. I did a show a few weeks ago there and it was a hoot. But, with Covid restrictions rising in the last 10 days, TV-39 switched to doing one show in the studio without a live audience and extending the show to include a live TV broadcast from the station as well as a broadcast to the big Jumbotron outside of the station.

An elegant stage set.

I got there at the proscribed 8 am for the 11 am show and the 9 am sound check. No one was there and that was somewhat expected: a Sunday, the crew knew my specs and they had everything set up for all the shows that week. I finally got in by 8:30 and went through the Covid checks. All the staff had to be masked but as the performer, somehow I got off the hook. They told me that I was going to do a 27:30 set (I had planned for 45 minutes.) and that there would be a countdown clock right it front of me. I would have a few seconds leeway at the end. No problem.

My sight lines, with my monitor to the right.

Since there was no audience to play for (drat, one of my strongest suits for television) I decided to bring out some bling – my mandolin and banjo and added them into my short set. We got a sound check on everything and I settled in for the show to start. I changed strings on the mandolin, visited the deli tray in the lounge, meditated, etc.

At 11:00 they started the show and away I we go: Peanut Butter, All God’s Critters (banjo), Giants, I’m Gonna Tell (mandolin), We Gave Names to the Animals and (with 2:30 left) I finished with an abriviated Jelly in the Dish. I worked the cameras with lots of facials, finger-pointing at the audience and as much gravy as I could muster. And, as the countdown headed to 0:00, I finished by doing a “studio fade” (softer and softer) in the studio on Jelly and nailed the time with a “thanks.” I could tell the crew loved it. It was pretty cool, I must say myself. After we went off the air, the crew cheered. They were as good an audience as I could hope for.

The show was broadcast outside the TV-39 studios to any families that came by on the Sunday morning. I have no idea how many showed up but the pictures are cool.

The crew was asked not to react during the show, in that it would sound pretty weak with only a few folks in the house. But, as I found out later, during Names, my remark about a butt-saggin’ dragon made one of the camera women laugh out loud. At the end, I thanks TV-39 and the camera crew and the “camera person” in particular for their warmth and professionality. She delighted in that I gave her a shout-out and said “camera person.”

The producer Kira Willey was there, as was Katie Brennan, the production manager. Both were very appreciative of my show and they hope to use my show to help put together a potential package for a family music series with myself and the other performers in the series. I can see something nice coming out of my Sunday morning at the station.

It was great to be treated like a professional in my home town.


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