All entries filed under DF Family Shows

I had the chance to return to Godfrey’s stage for a Sunday family concert on Sunday afternoon, part of series of concerts sponsored by Just Born Candies (think, Peeps and Mike and Ike’s). I was feeling a little out of practise but figured once I was in the element, things would flow. And it did.

I started out with Shovelin’ and prefaced the song by asking what the kids did in the recent snow storm. Several kids said, “Snow man”, but one boy said, “I threw a snow ball at my mom.” It’s moments like these that are spontaneous and delightful that the whole audience picks up on. The song has a strong blue motif and I could sense the dads relaxing a little, knowing that I had some chops and that there would be some real music played.

We did the Tutti Tah next and off we went. Lots of laughs, chat with some of the bright kids sitting up front (I always engage these kids, regardless of the show’s pace. The conversations always lead to curious thoughts). The Cat Came Back, I’m Gonna Tell, Bear Hunt, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Giants, We Gave Names to the Animals, A Place in the Choir, and Jelly in the Dish. I finished off with Magic Penny, a nod to Valentine’s Day this week.

I broke out the rhythm instruments for Names and scarves for Jelly in the Dish, and the mandolin for I’m Gonna Tell, banjo for Place in the Choir. It was good to shake off some the rust on those instruments.

It was an hour-plus show, and it was a raucous good time. “Embrace the chaos.” After the show, I’ve been offering my CDs for free and it provides a good chance for folks to toss some extra bucks into the kitty. I pulled in an extra $70.

Perhaps the most curious moment happened during Peanut Butter and Jelly, where get the boys/men to take one part, and the girls/women take the other. One child piped up that he/she didn’t know which gender they were. I spoke up and said, “Be both.” It turns out that the child was trans, something I should be more aware of. I was lucky that responded the way I did, and, later, found out that the mom was glad too.

There are always moments where I have to respond “in the moment” and I’m glad I have the artistic sense on how to shape these moments and make them part of the show.

It felt good to be in front of full house of families again. I did it well.

This one was booked months ago, and it finally rolled around, as it always does.

This was a church kids/family event at Ziegels Union Church in rural Lehigh County west of Allentown. There are two congregations (Congregational and Lutheran) sharing this old church (and ancient cemetery), thus the ‘union’ title. I think that’s a commendable effort.

I was booked as the main event at 1 pm, to be followed by hot chocolate and goodies. There ya go. I got there plenty in time to set up with a vocal mike. The sanctuary seemed live enough to play the guitar acoustically. As I set up, I had a chance to hang out with the custodian/volunteer and we chatted. We found out we had in common the late Bob Grover from that area.

Custodian and younger brother.

A young boy was poking around so we engaged in conversation. He said he didn’t play but his older brother did. I shared the rain stick with him and his eyes lit up. Ten minutes later his 15 year old brother (with long hair) showed up so we talked guitar. I offered him my Martin to play and he sat back in a pew and played some really nice stuff. He knew what he was doing. You could tell he was bitten by the ‘good guitar’ bug. While we lugging stuff to my car at the end, he said he had to check in on this Martin stuff. A magic moment, one that I recall in my past.

The concert was well attended with about twenty kids up in front of me, with an equal amount of curious adults and some parents. I started with I Like Peanut Butter, followed with Tutti Tah and rolled into some Santa classics. I said that it was hard to remember the third and fourth verses to some of these annual songs, and the minister in the third pew nodded in agreement.

I broke out the rhythm instruments for We Gave Names to the Animals, the scarves for Jelly in the Dish towards the end and then tossed out red foam noses to the kids for Rudolph. As usual, Rudolph was a riot, with everyone noodling their antlers. I have the best seat in the house.

We finished up and I headed for some hot chocolate and cookies. It was a gorgeous day in one of my favorite parts of PA. …and I got paid.

Bank Street Annex

Breakfast with Santa (or, as I termed it, Coffee with Dave) is my second time at this social event at the posh Bank Street Annex. It’s an event dreamed up by the Downtown Easton folks to encourage families to come downtown. It’s held the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and seems to be a way to dress the kids and parents up for a society event.

I set up my small sound system and brought my bags of instruments for an hour and a half gig. As folks filtered in, I broke out my holiday material for the first time this season, added some of my kids material and did my thing.

The Nose Bros.

As the kids eventually finished up their breakfast, they started gingerly to approach my station. Some kids were familiar from last year and jumped into the bag of instruments, and away we went. The parents appreciate what I do and snap lots of pictures of the kids in action. I handed out noses later on.

Santa and Mrs. Claus made their grand entrance down the elegant stairway, with The Grinch not far behind. Santa read The Night Before Christmas and sang Rudolph while I tried to snatch some of the food for myself. I resumed playing music while the kids posed for photos and, soon, we were wrapping it up.

The Dude himself and me.

This Santa was particularly good in his manner and voice (now in his 78th year) and we put on a good show. As he posed with me for our picture, he said he wished he had my talent, a generous nod to me. I said he was good at his job.

The job was good for me, not having a whole lot of gigs these days. Marcie, the Easton planner was gracious and even fetched my car from the parking garage, paid for it, and I was able to load and leave efficiently. Quite the blessing these days. A good day and I was done before 11 am. Check in the mail.

Not many gigs these days, but I’ll take note of them all. Saturday morning, I was asked to play for my friends at Flint Hill Farms for a fall farm tour date, one I like to do every fall (and spring). It was quite a rainy morning, with heavy showers in the forecast. But, my friend Dave Reber had swept up some sawdust in the barn and made room for me – a couple of benches and chairs and I was ready to roll.

My friend John Christie let me know that he and Sue were going to come out, so I invited him to bring his guitar (a fine Brazilian rosewood faux-Martin). That made for a nice session. There were few families out and no wagon rides, but the few kids that showed up picked up shakers and clatterpillars and played along. Again, that’s all I need to have the time disappear.

Following me was a local trio of a dad and his two twenty-year old sons. As they hung around to catch some of our set, one of the sons mentioned that he still remembers me playing at an assembly at Springfield ES when he was in fourth grade. This stuff happens frequently but I still relish these tales.

I got paid in cheese, and my friend Kathy, head-cheese at the farm, gathered some goat cheese and thanked me dearly for my regular supporting visits to the farm. A good morning for me.

This was a tough gig. I was asked to do a kids’ show at this annual bluegrass festival in Wind Gap. I thought it a great idea, to provide some entertainment for kids of campers, and to give the parents a break, too.

I made a major blunder in mixing up the date with a Musikfest gig on Saturday. When it was pointed out that this was a double-booking, I apologized profusely and offered to cancel the MF gig. The festival contact said perhaps the festival could adapt and have me on the Friday. That was most gracious of them and spared me the ignominy of futzing with Mother Musikfest. I said thanks, and let’s do it.

The festival decided to bill it as Dave Fry’s Hootenanny, a pretty good title. As it turns out, there were very few kids for this session, a couple of adults, as we gathered around future campfire site. There were two brave kids, a couple of ladies with a flute and a mandolin and my bag of instruments. We proceeded to work with what we had, made some good music.

I felt pretty bad about the situation and refused the check if we could work on this concept for next year’s festival – better promotion, etc. I was feeling pretty low and decided to split for home with my tail between my legs. Tough gig.

My good friends at the Saucon Valley Community Center in Hellertown did an event at Reservoir Park near Hellertown this morning and afternoon. I was asked to play two sets with a magician in between. It turned out to be great weather, though a slim turnout for this event.

I set up in an open area and launched with some general tunes and I caught that one dad, mom and a very shy son had gathered nearby. The dad came up and played tambourine on a tune, but his son didn’t budge. I invited them to sit down nearby. There was nobody else to work with so I kept on with dad’s encouragement and his son’s reticence. Eventually, it became a rich experience.

As I found out, as we chatted between songs, Jesse (Dad) had emailed me earlier in the week and had made the trip down from Scranton to catch this set. He had seen me as a kid at an assembly in NJ 30 years ago, and had picked up my CDs and was playing them in the car with his son, Bennett and his wife. A true fan-boy.

We had a great time as I was able to draw Bennett into the music with Clattapillars, and other instruments, simple chatting, conversation with his parents, etc. so that, by the end of my first set, we were buds. He came up afterwards and asked for autographs for my CDs, including a cassette cover I autographed to his dad 30 years ago. This is pretty deep stuff.

I took a break for the magicians (they always command an audience) and followed with set of music for no one in particular. I wrapped up, apologize for the small turnout, ate a turkey hotdog and headed home. Life in the slow lane. Still, the work with Jesse and Bennett made it all worth it.

I was asked to play three sets of music at this initial festival on the grounds of the Henry Homestead in Belfast, PA. Henry, and his kin, were early gun manufacturers during the Revolutionary war and have a very curious history in these parts. The old homestead is now a historic site and the folks in the society want to increase its visibility.

They hired me as a kids’ performer and the local bluegrass band Nightbirds Callin’ to exchange sets: me at 11, 1 and 3 and the band at 12 and 2. It was a good combination.

My first set was a little rough, but with a young girl and her grandmother, I was able to connect to the general gathering rather easily. Funny how that works. I was able to mix adult and kids’ stuff and hold my own. My voice and guitar was a little shaky, though. Out of practice.

The bluegrass band did a nice of some folk/rock tunes and traditional songs. I was glad I was able to use their sound.

I set up for the second set and things were definitely in better shape. It was nice that the band provided for a few more folks in the audience. Again, I had the opportunity to use my repertoire to cross between adult and kids’ stuff.

The band did their second set while I gathered myself in my car. The third set featured the daughter of my good friend Harley and his grandson in the audience. (“His first Dave Fry concert”) I had some gas left in the tank and was cruising when, during I Like Peanut Butter the sprinkles started, followed by a drenching storm. I got through two verses and packed it in. As everyone scrambled to pack up the equipment, I sold a few CD’s, got my stuff into my car (windows open) and headed out of the park in a veritable sheet of rain. I remarked later that it was nature’s way of telling you that you’ve played enough. It was good for my voice, as well.

It was a good, low-pressure way to get back on the horse and flex my musical muscles. And, I got paid! The society hopes to expand this into a larger festival next year. Yes.

Having lost two gigs to the Great Canadian Smoke Out this week, it was good to have my annual folk service at Christ Lutheran in Hellertown to get me back on track. I’m asked to help kick off their summer musical series with a family-themed service. Usually, there are only a few kids in attendance (which led me to tailor my material to more adult songs), but today was an anomaly , with kids and parents coming from the day-care in house at the church. I went back out to my car and brought in my bag of scarves, just in case.

The sermon’s theme was reaching out to unexpected people in the community (tax collectors, etc.). So I picked several songs that would emphasize that. I started with A Place in the Choir and then, for the opening anthem, John Gorka’s Branching Out. As folks sang, I supplied the hand motions. With the words on the screen above me, the congregation did fine.

The youth pastor had introduced himself to me before hand and during his presentation used several quotes from my Lessons From Pete. That was gratifying. He sang a song on Uke and paraded the kids around the venue. Nice job.

After the sermon, I brought out John’s Good Noise and invited the kids and their parents to come up and dance with the scarves. It was quite the sight, and made for a wonderful spectacle for the rest of the congregation. We did Get Together as a closing hymn and I finished with the Carter Family’s Gospel Ship as folks recessed.

Folks came up to me afterwards and thanked me. It seems that this one is getting more popular with the general congregation, and I find this wooden room a delight to play in, and I’m comfortable enough to be able to toss in my usual asides to keep things loose.

It was a good gig, and I took advantage of the pot luck afterwards.

An interesting gig was offered to me recently; a one-day camp for diabetes-1 kids and families at Cedar Crest College on Sunday: CampConnecT1D. The pay scale was quite lucrative and I figured I could do it well. The theme was health and mental welfare through music. Right up my alley. There were about 15 kids with their parents. The local radio station B101 was there, as well.

I was asked to do two hours but negotiated for an hour and a half, considering our collective attention span. I followed Dr. David Holland’s presentation, spotlighting how the arts can affect emotions, which fit in nicely later on in my show.

Rain stick for Tropical Vacation

I was set up under a big balloon arch, with pillows for the kids and chairs for the adults/parents. A few blow-up guitars, mikes, keyboards were scattered about, and, as I started with I Like Peanut Butter, I encouraged the kids to take a lead on the props. They did and instantly came out of their shells. I followed with Tutti Tah, encouraging the adults to participate. We were on our way. Tropical Vacation, Down By the Bay, Giants, Branching Out, We Gave Names to the Animals (with shakers) and more.

As we headed into the home stretch, I broke out the scarves and we explore emotions, with Dr. Holland coming up and demonstrating being vexed, one of the more curious emotions brought up by the kids. We then did some scarf-art with the alphabet and followed with Jelly in the Dish, with kids (and, eventually parents, nurses and staff joining in) dancing, tossing scarves in the air, and sharing them with each other. I’ve been doing this exercise quite often recently with great effect as a closer.

I took time at the end to reflect on what the kids, and then the adults, liked about the show. This is a great was for folks to vocalize and establish a vocabulary on the arts experience. This was wonderful, as well.

Pizza and hoagies followed and I got to talk with some of the nurses and Dr. Holland about the session. They loved it. I picked up the check (with a 10% tip) and drove back home feeling fairly righteous about the event and my part in it. And I got paid well.

I love these family birthday parties. A family who frequents my Saucon Valley Farmers’ Market visits asked me if I’d do a birthday party for their son Nithin’ 5th. Tucked away in a housing development in Center Valley, I pulled up in the driveway with loads of cars parked on the street. The party was jumping with kids in the basement and adults chowing down in the kitchen. I was set up in the ‘great’ room with a chair and nice rug, couch and a few chairs.

I made the point, as I started out, that parents should respect the community nature of the event and not talk among themselves in the back. They didn’t, and I’m glad I made the point up front. I took it from there and rolled through I Like Peanut Butte, The Tutti Tah, I Wanna Be a Dog, etc. I broke out the bag of instruments, the scarves and the room became a vision of color, movement and laughter. It lifted my soul.

I was particularly moved by the diversity of folks with lots of blended families, Indian-Americans and the like, young families and grandparents, etc. I also took time to thank the three young girls who could have dropped out of the festivities for being “too old” to join in. I complimented their involvement and how that was important for them to model for the younger kids.

One mother said it was the best birthday party ever, even if it was for kids. And there was Cake!


I signed up for a long day on Saturday after Thanksgiving. I figured if I could make it to the Godfrey’s gig with Craig and Dick, I’d be fine.

I picked up a Breakfast with Santa gig in Easton only a few days before the date, and, in spite of an initial hesitation, I decided to do it. It was in a posh venue, Bank Street Annex (banquet hall) , a few doors down from Center Circle. It was set up for families to have a fancy breakfast and then meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus. I believe the admission was fairly steep, and there were about 50 people and a wait staff on hand. I set up my small sound system about 10 am and started in when the doors opened.

I had my bag of instruments on hand, and, gradually, the kids came over and joined in. Eventually Santa came down the stairs, read The Night Before Christmas and posed with all the families. He was a pretty good Santa. I continued to play with the kids and it proved to be a good time. I seemed to add a nice dimension to the affair. I packed up and headed home.

I’m lucky to sneak into some very prestigious festivals as a kids’ performer and Saturday’s gig at the 50th Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival is an example. My friend Jayne Toohey, photographer and Philly Folk Festival volunteer has asked me to do a family set at this festival several times, and I was glad, especially after the last few Covid years, to do it this weekend.

Jayne Toohey

I do a set in an unused pavilion on the Salem County Fairgrounds as the main festival rolls on further away on the main stage. My scene is a dusty, saw-chipped empty space, better fit for cattle and sheep, with a section of bleachers up at one end, with a small sound system run by another good friend from my Philly folk relations, John Mac.

Another act, a clever Black magician Chris, was booked at 2 pm and he did his wonderful show before my set at 4 pm. He had a good crowd to play for (as do most magicians in this business), working in his tricks and clever patter. He’s really good at doing this.

I set up my guitar, bags of instruments and puppets, and waited for my time. Nobody anywhere near this pavilion. As usual, I will have to start from scratch.

There was next to none in the way of promotion of the kids area, no mention on the web site and I even had to talk my way into the festival at the main gate. No mention of me with the powers that run the festival. So it goes.

At four pm, with nobody in the house, empty bleachers and a family picking some tunes just outside the pavilion, I started playing Shoo That Fly, apologizing to the family for interrupting their session, but I had to start somewhere. The folks were gracious enough to pull it in, and I continued for about 10 minutes until a mom and dad and their two kids stopped over and sat down with their snow cones. Here we go.

I opened up my bag of rhythm instruments and encourage the boy and his sister to join in. Gradually, a few more kids, moms, dads settled in and I finally had a basic audience to work with. I ended up with about a dozen kids and scattered adults to do my set. Scarves, puppets and instruments and a cloud of dust and chips. I finished up, and after the kids helped put my stuff away (it’s going to be quite a clean up later), I handed out CDs to all the kids, fist-bumped and packed up my stuff in my car. I hoped to catch some homemade ice cream and some bluegrass music from the main stage before I headed home.

I ran into some surprising folks while on site, including a woman who knew me from her wedding that Pavlov’s Dawgs played at back in the 90’s. I did remember the site at Mensch Hill outside of a small town in Berks County. We had a great chat about acoustic music, Godfrey’s, the state of bluegrass, folk radio and more. It was remarkable to run into someone that distant in my past. Deep connections. Only my friend Fred Gilmartin made the effort to search me out after my set, knowing several other friends were at the festival. So it goes. I know I’m lucky to have a small part (but a very nice payday) in this festival.

I could only take one set from the bluegrass band on stage, and drove off into the setting,  sun in rural South Jersey, headed for home on a beautiful Labor Day Saturday.

I had to cancel several gigs during my bout with Covid, and today was my return to active duty with two hours at the Rose Garden Farmers’ Market and tow sets at the St. Thomas More Festival in the afternoon. I’ve been laying low for ten days now, feeling some fatigue (though no symptoms), but I’ve been concerned as to how my voice, my hands and my energy would be for the day. I did better than expected.

The Rose Garden gig is fairly effortless, with no sound system, a chair under the trees and a mobile audience drifting by at the market. I did check in with several folks who knew of my Covid difficulties, and was able to mix in a good variety of songs. There were few kids today, except for the final half hour. We did break into the bag for that session and we had a good time. I finished up with $20 in tips, but it was a slow morning all around.

I headed back home to refocus for the afternoon’s two sets at St Thomas More’s Festival. I was signed up for two hour sets at 1:30 and 3:30 pm, with my good friend Al Grout doing his magic/juggling/comedy show in between.

I was in the large tent on stage, following a woman doing a reptile demonstration. Per usual, once she packed up her critters, the group of kids and parents headed off for other parts of the festival. Yes, I started with no one anywhere near the stage. Gradually a few brave souls came over, and I encouraged the three girls and one boy to grab an instrument and join in. It was hard work with such a low attendance, but I got through it.

Al Grout came on and did his wonderful set, all rolling with his clever patter and obvious skill. He’s a pro – and a good friend.

Again, after his show, I was faced with a sparse audience but plunged ahead, this time with the bag of puppets the bag of instruments. I was able to invite some of the kids up on the stage and that proved to be a good idea. They danced, sang, and tossed scarves and basically gave a nice scene for the adults in the audience to witness. The second set was more animated. I finished up and made room for Al’s second set.

Chatting with the lady who booked me, she apologized for the low attendance but said it was the first festival like this in a while. She said several lessons were learned for next year. I still feel I don’t have the clout to command an audience with my music and low-key presentation. I was glad for the opportunity and, of course, the check at the end of the gig.

I was beat at the end of the day, but celebrated by treating myself to this seasons’ first Gelato at Rita’s on the way home. It was great. I survived a long day and my extended absence due to Covid.

This was one of the good ones of the year for me, essentially my only professional set at Musikfest this year, with my good friend Kris Kehr on bass. This marked my 39th MF and I believe I’m the only one left to have played them all.

This set was kicking off the Tuesday evening at the new Stadtplatz (the old Americaplatz) and I was able to link some of my old gigs at that site over the years during my set. There was some light rain in the forecast, so there was a small crowd on hand (several folks coming in to see the Americana band following me), but a noticeable group of young families with grandmoms in tow. That turned out to be a great factor in how the set turned out.

I was a little concerned about my duo set at this stage, since most of the other groups were much louder, band-oriented groups. I had asked Craig Thatcher to sit in a few days ago, but he is quite busy with his many gigs during the festival. As it turned out, Kris and I had an excellent sound crew and, together, we had a nice, phat sound ourselves. We were able to fill the arena appropriately.

I had gotten wind that several friends were going to bring their grandkids so I front-loaded the set with some kids’ material. After opening with Don’t Call Me Early, some of the kids and families started to drift up front of the stage. I went into Shoo That Fly,  and folks started to dance. That energy captured some of the older folks in the back, and certainly gave Kris and me a boost. I followed with Summertime Blues, We Are Welcomed and then into the kids’ stuff: Giants, I Like Peanut Butter (with my goth story) and We Gave Names. Eventually, we had a nice, comfortable mosh pit of kids and grandmoms and a few dads dancing in front of us. (I should have brought in my bag of scarves and instruments, but, alas, I was traveling light for this one.)

Having changed my strings before the gig, my Martin was really holding its own in the mix, and coupled with Kris’s bass, I felt energized by our wall of sound. We drifted into my adult material with Nadine, Giant, How Legends are Made, Rosie is a Friend of Mine (with the story about Rosalie’s pregnancy announcement from this stage in 1989) and finished up with a very strong Lessons From Pete. I featured Kris’ lead bass on several songs and I believe his leads surprised and entertained the audience. He was great. Nice back-up vocals, too.

All in all, we did a great set with all the elements of what I do best: family material mixed with strong adult songs, a full sound, strong acoustic guitar chops, interesting banter that was site specific and great visuals with kids dancing in front of the stage. I am quite proud of how it turned out.

It was nice to have some folks come up after the show with legacy stories.

From Joe Ann: Aryana, my granddaughter, and I enjoyed your concert today. I’m sure Ary will continue to enjoy your music as her dad and aunt (our son and daughter) did when they were her age! Thanks again.
These things matter.


Allentown’s Pocket Park

I was honored to have a small part in Blues, Brews and Barbeque festival in Allentown on Saturday afternoon. My arena was Pocket Park, a small grassy space among parking garages and other tall buildings. Great mural works surrounded me.

The event coordinator Liz wanted to have some family activities for a largely adult audience, and this spot was perfect for. Liz, as I found out, was a big fan as a kid, and her mom was there to greet me. This family history stuff is quite gratifying for me.

As usual, there were very few kids on a hot day in town, but I did my ‘close-up’ magic with everyone who stopped by. The families appreciated the music, joining in singing and playing rhythm instruments. Liz’s 6-month old daughter was having a good time, being passed around among grandparents, uncles, aunts. Big smiles all around. Even the cops seemed to know me and were grinning.

Liz took a chance on trying to bring some family music to the festival and I told her I appreciated the work and her effort.

At the end of the two hours, I was beat, but off to Father Folk for a 6 pm set west of Reading. The beat goes on.

Young Audiences scored me a couple of summer gigs in Wilmington, DE. I was looking to get out of town anyway. It was another 90 degree day and I’m lucky to have a air-conditioned vehicle.

When I got there, I met up with the liaison for the recreation folks in town, working with the big theater outfit as part of their community outreach. Seems Sid knew of me from The Philly Folk Fest, having worked on the Archives Crew. We had quite a few common friends, and struck a great conversation about Fest as well as David Bromberg’s moving to town.

Father Tuck Park

Father Tuck Park is situated in the neighborhood Little Italy and I enjoyed catching up on the lay of the land. Big Catholic church up the hill from the park. We set up in a shady glade with Sid’s small generator purring away. I didn’t expect any kind of crowd and was willing to forgo the sound, but we went with it anyway. It turned out that having a presence in the neighborhood was important.

There were only a mom and young daughter and a daycare teacher with two girls and a young boy. It doesn’t matter since I work with what I got. Still, its hard for the kids to relax when it’s such a small group. The two girls eventually loosened up nicely and were dancing at the end. The mom was a former preschool teacher so she and her daughter were already primed.

It was a long day, with three hours of travel and an hour show, but worth it to soak in some of Little Italy on a hot day. I’ll return later in August to another Wilmington park.


I was set to kick off the Summer Series of Educational programs at our local PBS TV station on Tuesday – two shows at 10 and 11 am for a decent amount of money. There were vax and mask mandates for the building but that was fine with me. I got to the studio in plenty of time and, with few families signed up, we decided to ditch the sound system and go acoustic. Cate, my good friend and educational liaison for the station greeted me warmly as ever. I set up and waited.

A few minutes after 10, Cate came in and said that the few families that showed up didn’t have vax papers and left. I was disappointed but quickly said, “Can we do it outside?” Cate said why not and quickly scrambled to tell the families walking away. With the help of the crew, we set up on a large patio out front of the station and gathered the few folks for the show.

My view of the Steel Stacks arena.

It was a spectacularly beautiful day and the setting was wonderful.  I introduced myself to the three moms and five kids. I opened up my bag of instruments and started in with I Like Peanut Butter. Away we go! The next 50 minutes were quite rich, and as I worked with these folks, Cate and other members of the staff were delighted that we were able to save the situation. They took lots of photos for later promo.

I gave away a bunch of CDs, autographed them and then waited for the folks to show for the second show. In the meantime, Cate and I had a great chat, talking about my TA skills and experiences, her time as a Catholic school teacher and my recent viewing of the Fred Rogers documentary “Would You Be My Neighbor?” Eventually, we realized that no one was going to show up for the show, so we wrapped up my equipment and I headed back to the car.

As I was writing up my set list for the day, I realized that I need to get some of my material back in shape from a two-year layoff. I Wanna Be a Dog wasn’t on the tip of my brain anymore, and I had to listen to my CD to remind myself about The Bear Hunt, both of which were “no brainers” just a few years ago. I’m getting older.

I felt good about the session, Cate’s support of my work with the station, and the beautiful day.

Cate also cut me a check for a much larger sum of money, since TV-39 wasn’t going to do the big series during Musikfest this year. She more than doubled my fee for today. I am blessed.

A weekend of return visits to my old haunts – the Emmaus Library hired me to play two hours from 11:30 to 1:30 on the front lawn as part of their Summer Reading Program Kick-off. It was unseasonably windy and cool so I was glad I had my sweatshirt on. I set up under a pop-up tent, decided to eschew the sound system and just play for folks stopping by. There were food trucks, outdoor and indoor games, and a fairly good amount of families stopping by. I launched right in with one little girl and her mom, raring to go. (It seems she was really looking forward to seeing me, and, in fact, was right up front, tuned in for over an hour.)

I opened up the small bag of rhythm instruments, engaged kids, toddlers and parents from the get go, interacting with everyone. The library staff tending to other tables nearby all were picking up on the vibes. Over the course of the afternoon, I gave away lots of CDs just to get the music out. Things got quieter later on. Next time I should start earlier in the morning.

All in all, everyone had a great time, and, as expected, the library staff was tickled with the activities. I was glad I did it acoustically and had the opportunity to resurrect a few more tunes from my old repertoire. Skip To My Lou, Bear Hunt and other.

I was paid what I asked for and what I deserve for these kind of public gigs. Off to Pottstown for a family birthday picnic.

It’s been several years since I’ve last played for the Holy Infancy parish and I was pleased to return this year. I’ve been playing at the school for 14 years, many times in the old school down on 4th Street, a block from home. They’ve moved up the hill to a very nice facility and they asked me to play inside in the cafeteria. (There was lots of activity out in the lots around the school and church. I was fine with having a small footprint.

It was a hot day and I was fortunate to play in the air-conditioning. I had a 7:30 – 8:30 set, a little late for some families, but there were a few friendly faces from my assemblies at the old school, and they made me feel quite welcome. A few teenage girls were gathering so I invited them to move closer. They started asking me for Bear Hunt, Cat Came Back and others. I realized these teens were once in first and second grade; they actually knew the songs better than I did. Pretty cool.

There were a good number of young families with little kids, so I broke open my small bag of instruments to share and we had a good time dancing and running around the stage. I eventually got out a bag of scarves and away we went. Toddlers, teens and a few adults having some food and drink in the back. I wrapped things up after about 45 minutes.

The principal thanked me, gave me a check (a first for me) and we figured times were right for a return assembly in the fall. Good Neighbors.

I was honored to be asked to do the lobby pre-show for this production from our local community theater outfit Touchstone, one I have deep connections with, having being an ensemble member back in the 80’s.

This is a wonderful part of Touchstone’s outreach in the community, reaching creative teens and preteens artists, writers, actors and more, across the Lehigh Valley. The kids get to work with some of Touchstone’s ensemble as directors. A noble endeavor.

My small part is to engage kids and families as they make their way into the large Baker Theater. I like the fact that I was along one wall, between two bubble machines! I was asked to play from 7 to 7:30 when the show would begin. I got there early, and so started in about 6:45. Why not? I immediately engaged a young family with two older sisters and their younger brother. He was wearing shades and immediately put one of my sunglasses over his, upside down, of course. The other folks picked up on this right away. I knew this was going to be fun.

As folks gathered in the building, I motioned for other kids to join in. I even told one older teen girl to put down her cell phone and take up a maraca. She smiled, and she did, and played along, When her two friends showed up, they joined in, as well. Smiles all around. That was nice. Shoo That Fly, I Like Peanut Butter, We Gave Names to the Animals, etc. All upbeat and playable.

Things dried up about 7:25 as folks drifted in for the show. I finished with Branching Out to an empty hall. Not so, as my friend Carol Schachter walked up from her station at the entrance, and said she was singing along to the song. Sweet. Lisa, Touchstone’ managing director, mentioned toward the end that it didn’t matter if it was a throng of people or that one girl in front of me, I make connections. That was a spot-on reflection.

I packed up and headed to the parking lot to retrieve my car and then back to Fourth Street.