All entries filed under Farmers Markets

I had my second Bethlehem Farmers’ Market in two week today, having gone the whole season without any. I was blessed with another warm, sunny day in late October and made for a delightful set.

As usual, there were mostly Lehigh students streaming by, but, as I was setting up, I ran into Jack DeSilva, Bethlehem Area Schools’ Superintendent, out for a stroll during a break at the local Middle School. I then ran into Amy Forsyth, a friend, fiddler and artist, with her drawing class of students out in the public working on their craft. A good way to start the day.

A young lad and his grandmom stopped by and I encouraged the boy to sample the shakers in my bag, but was really shy, but he noticed the students with their pads, and motioned that he’d rather draw. He went over and one of women gave him a blank piece of paper and he scooted back with a smile on his face. That was great. He eventually warmed up to my bag of instruments (with the rain stick being the crack in the dam) and had a great time for the next half hour. It made my day.

My first neighborhood FM of the year finally rolled around. I had one on the books back in July until the Canadian smoke machine cancelled it. Today was a gloriously sunny and warm day on the Southside.

I was a little concerned with my recent dearth of gigs, but it turned out nicely today. I had my Martin and Helicon amp in hand, and they both served me well. Clean sound and easy load in and out.

Per usual, the students cruised by with little acknowledgement, though I was successful in shaming a few for a buck or two – the ones that took time to sit in the courtyard with me. A few familiar faces stopped by, including my jam pal Dr. Ken who graciously stuck around for an early set. He gave me some intelligent ears to play for.

A young family and grandparents stopped by and I engaged the young son with We Gave Names to the Animals, and, interestingly enough, several Lehigh students in the process. The grand folks gave me a $20 tip. Nice.

It was great to have the opportunity to bang on the guitar, work on my repertoire and exercise my digits and brain. Deb, the market manager, said at the end that I played great, and I had to agree with her. A good day on the planet.

Another under-the-radar gig during Musikfest at the Saturday Rose Garden Farmers’ Market.

After my nice Moravian Village the night before, it was good to have a low-pressure, two-hour gig under a shady tree, playing my stuff for folks walking by. Today’s gig had only a few kids, so I was able to uncap a bunch of my seldom-played adult material, semi-folk and roll stuff, and have the opportunity to chat with some good Bethlehem friends as well.

I was able to rationalize taking some chat breaks in order to have folks at the market enjoy some quiet and take in the refreshing sound of chatter on a gorgeous summer day, away from the hectic festival happening only a few blocks away.

As I was finishing up my two hours, I broke a string (nature’s way of saying it time to quit), one young family stopped by with their two-year old son. The family had stopped by a month ago, and it was cool to see the kids (and the parents) light up when they saw me and they sat down on the grass in front of me. The boy pulled out a couple of instruments, handed a couple to dad and mom, and I pulled out my mandolin for some tunes and we played. I put in some overtime but, of course, it was well worth the extra effort.

I packed up, chatted with some good friends, picked up my customary tomato (a standing tip from one of the vendors) and headed out for a Rita’s gelato, my personal post-gig treat. A fine Saturday morning in my home town.


This is  nice run of gigs in the home town area. My monthly Saucon Valley FM was moved from my regular 9:30 slot to 11 am, due to the young folks from the Saucon Valley School’s Jazz Band. They actually filled the market with parents and other folks, so it was a bonus for the vendors, as well. I pulled up and set up my small sound system and cruised through two hours of tunes.

There are always moments of conversation, interactions with kids and parents, and time playing to the great expanse of lawn in front of me. I got some woodshedding done on my general repertoire and a good warm-up for my Musikfest gig on Monday. I’m glad I do what I do.

Not much in the way of “real” gigs this season, and, I guess, that’s okay. I had two farmers’ markets this weekend, one in CT on Friday and one nearby in Hellertown on Sunday. I needed the time in between.

I hit the road at 10 am on Friday, thinking that traffic on a holiday weekend might be tough. Not the case, for the most part, and got to Madison in time to set up under the big old tree on the Madison Green. A good day but some lingering Canadian smog in the air. This gig is a long one – three hours – so I spend the first part aiming at the foot traffic between booths, and then turn around and face the green and the families that have brought blankets and socialize on the open lawn. This session usually involved a lot of close-up work with kids. Time does move along, but my voice was suffering today, which affects my concentration on the lyrics. It’s all connected. The drive home was quick (three hours) and mindless with good tunes on the deck.


Sunday’s Saucon Valley Market was quite a bit easier, with a mere two hour set and a ten minute drive. I was much more cognizant of the words and my guitar playing a bit more competent. (I need to change strings this week, though). It’s nice to have some familiar (and not so familiar faces) stop by and check in. Lots of dogs, and not so many kids today. I treated myself to Rita’s afterward. A good day.

A few tips and a couple of small checks. Beats workin’.

I headed up to Madison Green for my first farmers’ market of the year. A four hour drive that wasn’t too bad for a Friday and got there with a half hour to spare – time to meditate and then set up. It was a gorgeous day, with temps in the low 70’s and a mild breeze. I started out facing the market traffic and played my adult stuff, and, I must say, I was playing well for so early in the season. There were few tips, of course, but I got to chat with a fellow guitarist who was into Guilds. Always nice to sway guitar talk.

About an hour in, I noticed a few families setting up blankets behind me, so I did a 180 and faced the open Green for the rest of the gig. Kids, parents, grandparents started to gather and eventually we had a good connection – puppets, scarves, shakers spread out in front of me. I’m giving out my kids’ CD these days to the parents (hopefully they still have CD players). With about a half hour left, I asked the kids to gather the flotsam in front of me and put things back in the bags. I played a few more tunes and packed up my car for the ride home.

Daughter Rosalie was supposed to meet me for dinner, but she forgot. That gave me a head start back to Bethlehem and I could get back by 9:30.

I got some nice tips from the vendors who appreciate what I do for the market, especially the work with the kids and families: a nice bag of bagels, some craft cheese and a bag of greens and some scallions. Only about $35 in tips.

I was armed with a variety of CD’s for the trip and had a great time being able to take in full CDs, a rare treat these days. I always question myself about doing this three-hour gig with eight hours of travel, but I always enjoy getting out of town and having some time to ruminate on the road.

It’s my last farmers’ market of the season on Sunday in Hellertown. It was pretty chilly early on, with frost visible on the grass in front of me. For the first hour, my left hand was cold and I remarked that there was frost on the northside of my guitar, right where my fingers go. Still, I was glad to play this particular market over the summer. Play local, buy local.

From warmer times.

One of the nice things about this market are the familiar faces that stop by. The lady on her way to church, various folks from other FM’s, the vendors, and, most spectacularly, the kids running across the open lawn in front of me, eager to jam with me and dig into my bag of instruments. Cartwheels, spins, dances, big smiles, followed by the smiles of the moms and dads in tow. There are other folks who re-introduce themselves to me, and I often don’t recognize them until they fill me in on our old circumstances. Today, my friend Tom stopped by, and reminded me of his son Eric’s guitar lessons in the basement of Godfrey’s for many years. It was great to catch up with him. Another woman/teacher from Hopewell ES stopped by; Baby Shark was a feature at her wedding 20 years ago.

Lots of dollar tips today, gave away a few CDs to parents, and finally warmed up in the last hour. I’ll miss these extended practice sessions over the winter. I find them great opportunities to work on remembering the lyrics to my songs (gettin’ old…), trying out some hazier newer tunes, exercising my fingers and working on my social skills, as well. A lot goes on and I love being engaged publicly, and the time goes quickly.

I made the long haul to Madison on Friday on a spectacular fall day. The traffic up was light and I had a chance to land some Chinese food before the gig at 3 pm. I set up under the tree and launched in. Things were friendlier in Madison today, with a good flow of $1 tips. (One would hope for a few $5’s, considering the average New England wealth). Gradually, kids and families stopped by, and, half-way through I turned my chair around from the market to the open green where families gather on a Friday evening.

I have two bags now – one with rhythm instruments and the other with puppets, so I can sort of guide my way through a long 3 hour gig like this with a few aces up my sleeve. The up-close work with the individual kids is particularly rewarding, and I like to see the older folks watch the interactions with smiles. I’m giving away lots of kids CD’s these days, and that’s okay.

I struck up a conversation with the Bagel dude, and he gave me a half-dozen onion bagels for later. Good barter, as I gave him a Troubadour Cd.

The trip home was longer, with traffic heavy on a Friday night headed into New Haven. But, I enjoy my time listening to full CDs and left-wing podcasts. I am alone with my thoughts.

I got back around 10 pm, another 12 hours or so on the road for $100 and tips. Still, somehow, it’s worth the drive.

This is only my second FM here, a block away from my home at Farrington Square. Deb, the market manager, likes what I do and I like what I do, too. I still wish I could play here regularly.

I set up in the middle of the square, unfortunately away from any traffic so the prospect for tips is diminished, but Lehigh sends me a check in a couple of weeks, so it’s a trade-off. I am able to wheel in my equipment in one trip, my small amplifier sounds great in this acoustic shell, so things are good.

I started off a little rusty as far as remembering the lyrics to some of my songs, and, if I am the least bit distracted, I am tending to mumble a few words – not that anyone other than me notices. But, I notice. But I’m glad I’m not using a tablet to read the words like so many of my FM comrades. I still think it’s a cheat.

I have a festival gig at a fiddle contest on Sunday, so I was able to play some tunes that I may break out for that particular gig: Blue Mule, Don’t Call Me Early, Rosie, I Wanna Be a Dog, Drinking Whiskey Before Breakfast and a few others. It was a good run-through of my material.

It was a glorious day, weather-wise, lots of Lehigh coeds chowing down, a few friendly faces from my community on-site and a happy Peanut Man, glad to have me playing music. A good day.

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.

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.