All entries filed under Farmers Markets

I certainly was ready for a local gig after a long day on the road to CT and back on Saturday. This farmers’ market is one of my favorites, a good selection of vendors, familiar faces and a pretty good source of tips. I was asked to cut my set a little short due to a local school jazz band’s appearance after my set. I’m always ready to shorten my gig.

It’s still pretty hot and humid, but I have a pop-up tent and water so I figured I’d be fine. I started out well, with a few kids, parents stopping by to sample my instrument bag. A good chance to chat with folks and work on exercising my repertoire.

I struck up a conversation with the school’s music teacher who said she remembered me from my assemblies at Tinicum ES along the Delaware. She was in the audience as a child. I remember that school well. We talked about giving the kids a chance to play in public and various other Teaching Artist’s subjects. She was carrying the music on. Pretty powerful stuff.

On a serious note, my left hand started cramping up and I’m not sure if was the heat or the long gig yesterday. I barely made it through my set, even singing a few a cappella tunes. Something to pay heed to. Damn.

After three gigs on Saturday, I was looking forward to a simple two-hour gig on Sunday in Hellertown. It was going to be another hot one, and the market was going to close down at noon. Still, early on, there was a good crowd and folks tossed bucks into the mandolin case, kids stopped by to play instruments and time went quickly.

My strings were shot after 5 hours in the heat and humidity so I just thudded along. Boy, my Martin sounded pathetic and was really hard to keep in tune. But, I found myself concentrating on my singing, taking some chances that I usually don’t do. Interesting.

One of the nice things that happen at these farmers’ market gigs are the donations from the vendors that pop up at the end. Today, I got a fresh lemonade and a loaf of artisan bread from tow vendors. That’s really nice and it puts a sweet finish to a good gig.

 

The first gig today was from 10 am – noon at Easton’s Farmers’ Market along the Delaware River. It was cool to have some trains go by during the gig.

They put me on the outdoor stage, away from the market traffic so I end up playing to an empty lawn. Folks did find some tables and chairs in the shade on either side, so I had some folks to play to. I used my little amp with voice and guitar inputs and it works really well, and looks good, too.

There were some familiar faces who stopped over to reconnect, and some curious kids who came up to play instruments from the open bag at the lip of the stage. These small interactions really make a difference, and make the two hour gig flow quickly. I made decent tips, too.

I got paid by check and $25 in wooden coins for use at the market. I came away with plums, cherries and fresh peaches. Not to shabby.

Off to Allentown for Blues, Brews and Barbecue at 2 pm.

 

I was a little fuzzy today, following my long jaunt to CT and back the day before. Another spectacular day, weather-wise, and only two hours today. I set up in the grass and started off. My lyrics weren’t sharp at all, but that’s no big deal. I enjoy being the sound track for the market.

There was a steady stream of kids and families picking up instruments, scarves and puppets. Several super-charged boys with little focus or quizzical looks on their faces. It was also nice to simply have some conversations with the parents, the kids and various Bethlehem friends as they stopped by. No pressure to keep on playing all the time.

One woman with her young teen daughter loved some of the oldies I played and then started requesting Chantilly Lace, Johnny B. Goode and other songs I don’t know. I started to get pissed after she said, “How can you Not know that song?!” She kept it up while I was trying to state my philosophy on learning songs that mean something to me, songs that I enjoy learning. I eventually gave her my Troubadour CD to help give her a clue as to what I like to play.

I finished up around 11:30 and hung out a little with Mary, the market manager, talking about community and the market’s place in it. Tips were good – about $60 and I got my check for the whole season from a local realtor who is sponsoring me.

This was my first Madison Green Farmers’ Market of the season; a long haul for small pay, but I was reminded why I enjoy the trip. When the traffic’s fairly light (if I leave early enough on a Friday morning), I get to enjoy listening to my podcasts and full albums in the car. That’s actually a rare experience these days.

I got there in plenty of time, set up under the old oak tree. It was a stellar day, weather-wise and I set into my three hour set. I gathered a few kids early on, and there was some fine interaction. As usual, most of the elder shoppers breezed on by but picked up a few tips from parents and grandparents.

About an hour in, as families gathered on the green behind me, I turned my chair around to face the new audience. It seems young families use the opportunity to spread out blankets and socialize and let the kids hang out together. It’s a nice scene.

There are familiar faces, moms, kids, etc. and always some new folks there to capture the moments with their kids. Six pm rolls around quickly enough and I head back to PA into the sunset, appropriately. Tips were much better this time – around $60 and I got my check for $100, cheap, cheap, cheap. (I had asked for more but the vendors and market managers said no.)

Again, I enjoyed the ride home, alone with my music and my thoughts.

 

Clouds roll in towards noon.

Twas a spectacular morning on Sunday, with temps in the high 60’s, no wind and drifting clouds and May green in the trees. I settled in for my 9:30 start with my new amp, my bag of instruments and took a survey of the place. It was nice to see the vendors consolidated; post Covid, they didn’t have to have a vast lawn like the last year, and there seemed to be a stronger sense of community.

I saw the former market manager Terry as I first landed and congratulated for no longer being in charge. He chuckled and said he was feeling good about just being a volunteer. It was good to see him. The new folks came over as I set up and I thanked them for the work. I know we’ll do fine over the summer gigs.

The smaller amp seemed to do just fine, though with less bass, but enough volume to fill the space in front of me. I’m able to keep things down so the vendors can chat with the customers. Rule #1. I started off with Shoo That Fly and felt right at home.

Lots of dogs show up with their humans. Directly to my right is the Dog Biscuit couple, and happy dog tails are shakin’ that thang when they arrived. The dogs know (nose). It certainly takes the spotlight off me, and I have a front seat. There were few families at first, and parents (and kids) were hesitant to commit to playing shakers. I’m fine with just giving them a CD. That even coaxes a few bucks for the case/cause. Eventually, a few familiar kids and moms stopped over and we had some good moments, and I could see some older folks stopping and watching from a distance. I love the fist bumps with the kids. One kid Oliver through in a high five for good measure.

It was good the exercise the repertoire again, with most stuff in good shape. I played well and the time flew by. I usually don’t even look at my pocket watch til after an hour. My mahogany Martin remains a joy to play, and certainly makes me sound competent.

As I packed up a couple vendors came over, signaled a heart-bump, and one lady gave me a small loaf of Japanese Milk Bread. (??!!) I’m enjoying some luxury toast these mornings.

I was simply a delight to be back at this Farmers’ Market, and have the chance to mix things up playing live music in the neighborhood. Record tips and a few CD sales! I can do my laundry this week!

The farmers’ markets are starting to roll in, and I had my first of the season on Thursday a block away from home at Farrington Square (formerly Campus Square). It was a grey and somewhat breezy day with temps in the upper 50’s, still a little chipper, but a good day, none the less.

I set up my new combo vocal/guitar amp for the first time outdoors and I was mostly pleased with it, in spite of a few annoying barks when I overdrive my guitar playing. (What, me, bangin’ on the guitar?!) I also baptized it with a new dent when it tumbled off my wagon at the end. Oh, well. All in all, a nice addition to my gear for some of these small gigs.

Being the first of the year for the market itself, there were new vendors among some of the old faces (Peanut Butter Man), lots of Lehigh coeds (what’s with the bare midriff theme? brrr…) and a few folks who knew who I was.

One particular coed came up and asked if I ever lived in CT. That was a surprise. She then asked if I had played the Atwood Library in Northford. Yes, that’s near where I used to live in Northford. She said she remembered me playing there as well as listening to my I Like Peanut Butter CD all the time. Amazing flashback. Cool.

The gig went quickly and I had a few verse conniptions, but that’s what these gigs are for, getting my repertoire up and running again.

It was good to be active again.

 

It’s a late Sunday in October and my last farmers’ market of the season. These events have really kept me in the ball game all summer with few festivals and school gig on the books. The Saucon Valley one is a regular one for me and I appreciate the work as do the other vendors. I even got some applause and appreciative waves from several of them.

It was in the low 50’s and mostly cloudy today, but I played well, and, as long as I didn’t stop for long, my fingers did fine. I was able to throw a couple of songs on the fire from my notes – a couple of Beatle tunes, a Bo Diddley song so that kept things fresh for me. It started to sprinkle close to the end, so I packed up a little early. A couple of vendors came over with some nice tips: a bag of mushrooms and a small jug of maple syrup. Yes, yes, yes.

These gigs give me 2 hours of uninterupted practice, working on my material, my vocals, my arrangements and a chance to play for some kids and adults. I’m going to miss these for the winter months.

I had a long day on Saturday, starting with my last Rose Garden Farmers’ Market of this season, a two-hour set from 9:30 to 11:30 am. It was another spectacular day on the planet and a pleasure to play outdoors. It was a slow day at the market, due to a downtown Bethlehem event, but it was relaxed and friendly, with several friends stopping by to chat. It is neighborhood, after all.

With the recent rash of FM gigs, I’ve been playing strong, working on songs and simply enjoying playing my repertoire, regardless if it’s perfect or not. The time goes very quickly. The tips are a bonus.

I had a birthday party to attend mid-afternoon for my grandson, Jayden close by. I took some time to readjust for a somewhat stressful visit to my former wife’s house for the party. I am not comfortable among them but felt it necessary to connect with my son, his wife and Jayden. I was hoping that other kids would be there so I could play some music, but not to be.

My next gig was a Camels Hump farm for an “Open Gate” event. When I got there, there wasn’t much action. Several snafus had curtailed the responce to the event, so I bided my time and finally played a set in the barnyard, without a PA. A few folks were there, including a young family with a precocious girl, so I mixed my set up with some good adult material and then concentrated on the young family.  As the sun set, I pulled it in, gave out a CD to the girl and headed home. I gave back most of the money to the woman in charge.

A long day.

I got a call from the Madison FM on Tuesday to see if I could fill in for a cancellation, and, of course, I said sure. Let’s drive for 3.5 hours up and back, play for 3 hours for $100. No problem.

I still had a good time since I played well and made some great connections with some adults and a bunch of kids in the process. The first two hours has me playing towards the vendors as the elite clientele goes walking by. About 45 minutes in, one woman tossed in a couple of bucks and I shouted, “Ladies and gentlemen, I finally got a tip! Thank you, Madison!” It was taken in good spirit but it needed to be said.

As folks gather on the lawn behind me, I turn my chair around and face the large green. Families tend to set up a little scrum of blankets and chairs, order pizza from the vendor, let the kids loose and socialize. It’s really two gigs in one. The kids come up and dive into my bag of instruments, puppets and scarves and we have a great time.

I am giving out a bunch of CDs these days, especially to the kids and families that interact at close range. I play right to those folks, and it’s important to seal the deal with a CD. Worth it.

The drive home is not so bad, with a fresh stick of podcasts and some adrenalin from the gig. I’m nuts to do this but I love it, for some reason.

This was my second Campus Square (old name) Farmers’ Market of the season, a bonus from the single shots of past years and the swing-and-miss of last year. I’m glad Deb gave me an extra one, since I’m a local guy living a block away. The day started out cloudy but eventually turned to sun.

We were under new Covid protocols since there were 150 new cases of the virus on campus in the last two weeks. I masked up and set up for a 11:15 start for a two hour set. Students were milling around so there was at least some movement, unlike the June gig. Crazy Joe and his peanut butter got his tune early on.

There were a bunch of students sitting at a few tables up front and I started some chatter, refering to days at Lehigh as an Arts-Engineer, which brought a rise from the kids. There were a few in the group. About 20 minutes in, my friend Amy Forsyth showed up, and I found out that these were her students in design. That explained why they were hanging out with sketch pads. They stuck around doodling away, and it was good to have Amy’s ears in the audience.

I played well and, as usual, the vendors appreciated the sound. I did take the mask off to sing. A friend Lisa A. dropped by towards the end, a big fan of July, so I did it up for her, gave her the CD compilation that it was on. I makes a difference to have friendly ears in the crowd.

I actually got a few $1 tips from the students, though I did shame the art students into donating. (Amy insisted) They simply do not make the connection of why the tip mandolin case is there. One student said that they never carry money with them – they have cards now But, I still find that hard to believe. Still, I was glad to make it out with $30 or so.

A good day for play.

Sometimes there’s not much to say about my gigs other than “Thank god for the opportunity to sit and play for two hours.”

I had actually counted on having the day off from a run of gigs over the last 5 days. I  was also glad that I wouldn’t be playing in the rain. Well, thanks to social media, I found that I had this Saucon Valley FM gig misplaced in my book as being next Sunday. Phew….

The hurricane Henri is skirting up the coast east of here and the weather wasn’t awful; only a few sprinkles during the set and I was covered with a pop-up tent. Half the vendors didn’t show up so things were really slow (except for the dog-walkers coming to visit the puppy biscuit stand in front of me). I dragged out my bag of instruments but never opened it since there were very few kids in tow today. Just as well.

I banged out my repertoire, found a few holes in my memory on some tunes, played some of the Beatles tunes that I had worked out during the end of my pandemic series, worked out on the mandolin – rusty… – and played to the big void in the middle of the market, glad to add some vibes for the vendors as they endured this slow day. I only got about $20 in tips but glad that folks made an effort to trek over my corner of the market.

I’m glad to be busy and that I’m putting $$ in the bank in case things get locked down again. I’m beat though.

At least I got a couple of days notice for this one. Still, it was touch and go getting there in time. I found out that I had to do a set at Donegan School at 10:30 am to wrap up the residency, which was just when I should be leaving for CT. I was able to switch things with Touchstone Theater to do my set with Names to the Animals at 10 am to start off the showcase (it was great) and then pack up and take off for Madison.

I got to town with a half hour to spare and set up under the big ole tree facing the pathway and started at 3 pm. Per usual, the first hour or so was playing to Madison’s gentry walking by with there artisanal veggies and sea food with nary a glance (or tip). Although my first tip was from a gentleman who through in a $2 bill. I laughed and lost my place in the song.

Eventually, some kids with moms, grandmoms and a few dads stopped by and we dug into the bag of instruments and connected. It seemed that there were fewer folks in town this time; perhaps vacations out of town. It was nice to strike up conversations with various folks, including a couple of women who were starting to play uke.

It was a long trip back through Friday evening traffic but I got home about 10 pm. I have Saturday morning off. Decent tips, and, surprisingly, I still enjoy getting out of Bethlehem for this monthly excursion. Perhaps that’s why I do it.

I was all warmed up for this one, having played a couple of gigs the day before, I set up in my usual spot with my small PA and up and running on time at 9:30. There were few folks out this Sunday, but the usual assortment of dog owners brought out the hounds for a little sniff or two. (There is a organic dog treat stand off to my right that gathers a regular crowd…)

I really like the opportunity to stretch my adult chops, pull out some tunes I’ve put up on FB recently (some Beatles stuff) and work on lyrics, tone, etc. just for kicks. Just play to the field.

Eventually a couple of kids, moms and dads stop by and we dig into the bag o’ instruments. The Clatterpillar is a new favorite. One young boy saw me across the field and zoned in on me, as I did him. A big ole grin hit his face. He was young enough to be pre-verbal but delighted in handing out shakers to others. Incredible connection.

A young mom brought her one-year old up in a carrier and plopped her right down in front. This little girl was amazing. She picked up a shaker and a small tamborine and started right in on the music, often using both hands (!!!) and occasionally vocalizing some joy. She was quite the audience to play to, and folks picked up on her fun.

Part of the success of this gig is not necessarily the tips (though appreciated) but how the older folk watch and enjoy the kids getting involved. I end up giving out several Peanut Butter CD’s to the parents, just to get the music in their ears.

It really is a three-ring circus, and I have the best seat. I played well, got paid and headed out for a music jam in Lancaster. Busy weekend.

It’s been a long time coming. I returned to one of my regular farmers’ markets and one that requires a somewhat foolish loyalty on my schedule. I used to live in this coastal town in Madison so it is an effort to remember my days raising a family in New England during the 2000’s, leaving the stability of my life in the Lehigh Valley and re-settling in a new environment. It’s not without some bittersweet memories, though.

It seems that no matter what time I leave for CT, I manage to pick up enough traffic on the way to always make it possible to arrive with ten minutes to spare. Yup, it happened today. Friday’s on I-95.

I like to set up in the flow of the market as shoppers walk by: picking up flowers, fish and fresh greens. Usually, the clientele walks right by and I get very little in tips – amazing considering the wealth of this demographic. Today was a bit friendlier though, as seems to be the case with the re-opening of our society.

As kids and families walked past, I engaged them with my bag of instruments and it works marvelously. I’ve changed my model a little in that I’ll give the folks one of my kids’ CDs gratis, mostly because I have a ton of them that will never sell, and also because I want to add the legacy of their family experience. Often, the folks are moved to throw some cash into the mando case, too.

As the afternoon moves on, I turn my chair around to face the beautiful open green and play to the families that have now begun to gather on blankets in the open, bringing out snacks, eating pizza from the market’s vendor. The folks often meet up with other young families, bring out grandparents and socialize. It’s an interesting two-part gig for me.

The kids gather in front of me, dive into the instruments, puppets and scarves and they give me a chance to work with the kids on an individual basis. I also get to see some of the kids grow over the several seasons that I’ve performed there. I still marvel that the parents send the kids up with a dollar for mando-case, and my snide inner self says silently, “Ah, yes. Teaching them the value of underpaying the artists in your community.” Even so, I felt glad that I pulled in more $5’s s this year and a general increase in tips.

I feel the appreciation of the vendors, as well. One kind woman from the vegetable stand threw in a tip and a thanks, and the cheese lady across the way gave me a chunk o’ cheese at the end of the day.

The day was made complete by a social visit to my friends Ron and Susan up in Northford for a little picking party later that evening. I haven’t seen these good friends in a long time, and my soul soaked up the love we share. I decided to head home afterwards, thinking the traffic would be smooth sailing, but not so. Lots of time for podcasts. Still, even though I’m whipped today, it was worth the trip.

 

This opportunity cropped up with only a few days notice, a return to my neighborhood farmers’ market a block from my place up on the Lehigh lower campus. I was glad to get the call from Deb. This farmers’ market is sponsored by Lehigh so there’s a nice check involved and I know some of the vendors from other sites.

It’s pretty sparse this year, with few students on campus and fewer vendors than before. The site is different and I was glad that Deb moved the musician’s tent down into the middle of the square, among the vendors and with nearby electricity. I set up my small system around 11 am and set out into a two hour set.

I appreciate the chance to exercise my rather expanded repertoire, so I was able to pull out some of the tunes I’ve done during my Kitchen Sessions, put them in play in public for the first time. It felt good.

As usual, the vendors and the market manager were really appreciative of the music, especially since there’s not a lot of traffic this year. It was interesting to see some of the students turn their ears to the music as they drifted by. They figured something’s going on here, still not quite sure what….

 

One of my local farmers’ markets kicked off their Saturday series of markets and I was asked to help with the festivities. The area has been refurbished and some old and new vendors were there. It was a beautiful day, as well.

I found a nice central area to work from, among the various vendors and I got started at 9:30 am. The place was quite active, and I believe that it was because of the lifting of the Covid protocols, the great weather and a lot of cabin fever. The energy was evident.

I started working with some of the kids that stopped by, playing with instruments from the open bag of shakers. As usual, a nice variety of toddlers, as well as some preteens as well. The interaction was rich and the vendors surrounding me picked up on it, as well. (I got some hurrahs from some as I was packing up to go home.

 

I was pulling in $5 tips along with the usual $1 ones, and I had a record haul of around $90, with a few CD sales thrown in. Great conversations along the way with a jazz drummer, a fellow TA artist who wants to do a video shoot from my kitchen, and numerous interactions with kids.

A great day in the park.

Early Sunday morning at the SVFM

Well, well, well. Three gigs within a week! Amazing.

I really appreciate this two hour Sunday morning gig at this Hellertown farmers’ market. I get to play songs I want to play and some I need to play, and I get to gauge what I need to work on. As usual, I had the mental gaps in the lyrics to tunes I should know, I flubbed the melodies to others and I realize how much this lack of live performances shapes my chops. But, it seems my guitar playing is staying sharp.

It was in the mid-40’s this morning, but no wind and I was dressed for the occasion. I didn’t have the dry hands I had last week, so it turned out to be a good day for playing. Not a lot of folks out, and certainly not as many kids/families these days. I did a couple of Jerry Jeff songs – Little Bird and Bojangles – and they came off well with all the respect that they deserve. He is on my Mount Rushmore of songwriters and FB was awash with stories and tales of his rapscallion ways.

I was able to engage with some folks including a young girl Melody who apparently is a gifted musician, though she was quite shy with me. Another woman, Marie, parked herself right down nearby and it was nice to have someone within earshot to play with and for. She picked up a tambourine and proceeded to do “interpretive” tambouring, as I call it. It was a pleasure to make conversation with her.

I enjoy the repartee with the vendors, and I know they enjoy what I bring to the event. The orchard ladies gave me some apples, the mushroom man some fresh shrooms (I worked up Feat’s It’s So Easy to Slip for him this week, the biscuit lady wants me to include her biscuits with the peanut butter man and the pepper jelly lady in my next visit, so I know they are listening.

The time goes quickly and the weather was remarkably good for a late October Sunday. I came away energized.

 

How exciting! Another gig!

I do welcome these farmers’ market gigs. They give me two hours to work on my material, refresh myself with the tunes that I put up on FB the week before and play for the public.

It was in the 40’s when I began after the first frost of the season the night before. I was a little concerned but I found the chill less onerous than the dryness of my hands. My picks were falling off my fingers and I had a tough time with my flat pick. I asked Angela if she had any moistener and she went out and bought some from one of the vendors and laid it on me. It worked and she gave me the jar. That was wonderful. And, it worked.

Things warmed up fairly quickly and, by the end, I was in the sunshine doing fine. The vendors appreciate what I do – the peanut butter man was dancing while I played I Like Peanut Butter and the veggie lady next to me was chatting with me during the two hours. She also picked out two fine tomatoes and gave them to me as a tip at the end. It’s the little things.

Various folks stopped by to chat (masked) and it was nice to connect with them. Lots of dogs on leashes, dog folk talking with each other. The vendors say business is way off, but still it does the heart good to see people out talking with each other, being normal.

I had new strings on for the occasion and I played well. I picked up tomatoes, mushrooms, peanut butter, sweet potatoes and many masked smiles today, along with a check and some grateful tips. A good way to spend a Sunday morning. I have my last one next week.

 

It was a cloudy day but temps in the upper 60’s. Good enough. Chatting with the vendors, there’s fewer folks coming to the market the last couple of weeks, though I thought it was wonderful to see folks out at all. Still, not enough to make a living for these folks.

I set up under the pop-up tent with my sound system and launched in. Having done three hours on Friday, this was a relative breeze and I was certainly warmed up. It was a good chance to lay out some of the newer tunes I had put up on FB in the last week: Simple Gifts, Goodtime Charlie, Deep River Blues, and they all sounded strong.

Several families stopped by and I opened up my bag so that the kids could play tambourines, clatterpillars and maracas. I’m feeling better about these opportunities, with the kids distanced, masked and with parents at hand. We had some very nice interactions, and these make the gig meaningful.

One woman gave me a bouquet of flowers out of the blue and the mushroom man tossed a big handful of extra ‘shrooms in the bag. It was a very nice gig, but not much on the horizon for a while.