All entries filed under Summer Concerts

Another day of employment! This one was only five minutes away, down at the studios of WLTV -39. These folks have been really supportive of my children’s work, they pay me what I’m worth (and don’t have to beg) and they promote my concerts nicely.

WLTV – 39 studio.

It was a fairly good turnout, with some familiar faces and quite a few new ones. Mostly moms, grandmoms and a few dads as well. Having had success the day before with my Three Bag Routine (animal puppets, rhythm instruments and then scarves.) Things moved nicely, with a lot of interaction with the kids and adults. I’m incorporating more “swaps” in the procedures – “share with someone you don’t know” and that is particularly satisfying. The kids are used to doing that.

A couple of the dads came up afterwards and said that they had either come to see me as a kids, or their grandmoms suggested that they bring their kids to see me. It’s that legacy thing that’s pretty cool.

The coordinator Cate is a wonderful liaison for the station, and we both have recovered from cancer issues, so it was a nice hug between us in the beginning and at the end. She respects me as an artist, pays me as an artist and appreciates me as a human. All good!

Monday’s park was Father Tucker’s Park, in the heart of Little Italy in Wilmington. I was hired by the Grand Opera House, a leading arts organization in the city. I was here several years ago, pre-covid and remember playing on this site. The turn-out was pretty small, with two dads with their boys, the Opera House folks and one 11 year-old girl, Asheka. She was great! She picked up on rainbow streamers and began to dance around the site, and was involved from the get go. She made my day. The Opera House provided a PA, and, over my objections, insisted we use it (for 10 people?), and the manager also insisted I perform on this natural stage, distant from the people. It seems he knew what he wanted to do, and not necessarily what was best for a slow session. Anyway, I plowed through, playing for the kids and adults and finished out my hour in front of nobody. So it goes. Back on the road for another hour and half drive.

Early drive to Wilmington on Tuesday with little traffic. I got to Haynes Park with time to spar, a large park in the northern part of the city. This one had a tennis camp going on, and I hoped they would stick around for the show. I’m glad they did. I had a group of about ten teens and sixteen tweeners so, at least today, I had critical mass to play for. And, as expected, the teens were less responsive than the younger kids, and, for a while, the younger kids got involved right away and made it easier to gradually win over the teens.

I was surprised that my friend Asheka was there. It seems her grandma supplies juice and snacks for the playground system. I thanked her grandma for Asheka’s talent and energy.

I was able to bring out the rhythm bag, then the puppet bag and finish up with the scarves. This worked really well, and I was able to shift gears every 15 minutes or so. For Giants, I was able to pull up a teen boy for the Thundertube, and he helped get the teens loose. He had a good sense of humor and it showed.

It was particularly good for the three Opera House folks to see me work a larger crowd, and one that had an age difference. They commented how good the session was and that I should apply again next year. That feels good.

It was only an hour and half commute (standard for my usual school work) up and back, and the pay was in my comfort zone. I also realize how much I miss being on the road, seeing a different part of the world, and listening to some good podcasts (today was about Motown and I Heard It Through the Grapevine). A good June tour, of sorts.

This turned out to be an interesting gig for a retirement village gig. It started with the realization that these folk are not that much older than me. Phew.

It was held in a large outdoor courtyard inside of 5 floors of apartments. It was a beautiful evening and I was booked for a 7:30 to 9 pm gig. I usually have to mix some oldies in with my folk material, but, s I realized that these folks lived in Bethlehem for years and many knew of me, I decided to go with my good adult material. As I played my set, I was able to mix in recollections of my time in Bethlehem, at Lehigh, early Musikfest, my teaching artist vocation, as well as doing some of my weird stuff (The Irish Ballad, Giants, et al) for entertainment values. It mixed well with my customary humor and I felt that there was a good rhythm and dynamic to the flow of the evening. I came away feeling pretty good about the set.

Gertie Fox

One woman came up and said it was the best event in the series, and others came up a shared some of their recollections of Bethlehem events. One woman said she was a classmate of Mary Travers (Peter Paul and Mary) and we talked about the first Burnside Plantation festival, before it became The Blueberry Festival. We recalled Gertie Fox, the original eco-warrior, who patrolled the Monacasy Creek outing polluters.

I felt like a neighbor.

This was the last MF gig for me this year, my 40th, and, in spite of feeling a little miffed with a Monday / Main Street gig this year, it turned out to be a nice gig. Having Kris Kehr really helps out the whole gig with his solid bass and improvisational skills, as well. We were signed up for two hour sets at 12 noon and 1:30 pm.

There were forecasts of some nasty weather, but things turned out fine for our early set. As usual, the sound crew was professional and made for a great comfort zone for Kris and myself, no minor thing, as we could hear each other, had good monitors, fat guitar, etc.

It was a bonus to have Kris and his young friend Noah on hand to assist me getting to the gig. I’m finding myself increasingly handicapped with my recent bout with cancer. Praise the road crew!

Don’t Call Me Early, Shoo That Fly, Summertime Blues set the stage for an interesting mix of kids and adult tunes. Having kids in the audience is a great theatrical device, as the adults are drawn to the kids’ reactions. But I still have to serve up some “real” music to keep folks in mind of the concert situation. It worked really well today, and my chat in between songs seemed real and unforced. (I never have a real idea of how this works, but it does.)

I was able to chat with several folks during the intermission and I was able to get a grip on my place at this festival: folks coming up and commenting on various gigs over the last 40 years. I guess this is where I gained some sense of my part in this event for 40 years.

Kris and I finished up with very nice second set, with fewer kids’ songs, and some extending folky tunes like Giants, Dixie Chicken and Pay Bo Diddley, all songs giving more space to Kris’s fine musical work. We played well and strong, and I felt good about my musical muscles this afternoon. Great support from the audience, both kids and adults, no small skill that I have. Sold some CD’s, too.

I was interviewed by the local TV station, and acquitted myself in good form. I’ll check it out last on the web – Channel 69 Allentown.

It didn’t rain.


Thanks to the flexibility of the bluegrass festival, I was able to keep my gig at Musikfest at the movie theater on the Arts Quest site. I had a thirty minute set in the theater and set out at 6 pm. My good friend Bruce Gaston was in the audience for a brief slot in the middle.

There was a medium crowd for me with good sound. I started off with Don’t Call Me Early and went from there, chatting about the material as I went along, mentioning that I had played every MF for forty years. I mixed in a few kids songs with a couple of families in attendance. I felt comfortable.

Bruce Gaston came up to play his hands (manualist…) and played a couple of tunes that, of course, caused some great reactions from the audience. Roll Out the Barrel and Take Me Out to the Ball Game, classics, all. He’s been a part of some of my shows for over 50 years, and a welcome addition to my Musikfest gigs.

This was a good recovery from the day before, and though at a smaller venue than what I would have liked from MF, a good gig.

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.

Father Folk is a date on my summer calendar that I always look forward to. It’s an annual gathering of musical friends on an undisclosed site south of Reading in a shaded grove, down a dirt road, in the middle of PA. This was its 25th iteration and I believe I’ve been to over 15 of them. It’s strictly word of mouth, with no mention on social media (thus the FF) in the lead above. It’s held on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a full sound system, a few food amenities, camping, jamming, etc. Friends put together 30 minutes sets, and some folks like me fly in to do a guest set. It has a great audience.

I signed up for a 5 pm Saturday set and got there around 3:30 to catch a nice trio of loose acquaintances do a fine set of folk, a short set from a young girl named Autumn on flute, and then it was my turn. I did my latest “festival” set with Don’t Call Me Early, July, Nadine, Giants, Giant and Lessons From Pete, a good mix of tunes and chat. Folks sang along on the appropriate tunes and I played well.

I ran into some my pickin’ friends, and an old band mate Bob Flower (Graveyard Skiffle Band) and we recalled that Bob was the one who turned me on to this gathering in the first place. I sold a few CDs, gave away a bunch to the kids in the crowd and hung out for a short bit before heading home. Invariably, I drive back to Bethlehem in a state of satisfaction and peace.

Oh, yeah. There’s no pay for this one, but worth the time and effort. Good for the soul.

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.

Tuesday was the kick-off of Channel 39’s Summer Series of kids and family shows in the studio of the TV station. I had the option of dates, so I picked the opener. A good choice with some stormy weather in the forcast.

The show was supposedly sold out, though that was a stretch. Still, there was a decent crowd of moms, kids and one dad, all stretched out on the carpets in front of me. Some familiar faces (the moms) and away we go.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these shows, so I was going on muscle memory, which seemed to work today. I Like Peanut Butter, Tutti Tah, We Gave Names,  Giants, Rhythm instruments (Splish Splash), Scarves (Jelly in the Dish).

The progression was pretty good in terms of interactions, with a nice culmination with the scarves dancing.

It was particularly nice that one dad showed up with his son, and the dad really got involved and dragged his reluctant son along, to the point where both were having a great time being son and dad. The kids dancing, almost right off the bat. Moms laughing. The ladies from the station sat in at the end and caught the general frivolity.

It was a particularly good gig, and I got paid more than I expected (!!!!). Home by 12:15.

I do several sets at this Northside Bethlehem day care center every summer and it’s always a challenge to be able to play for three distinct age groups, one after another. Puts my brain in overdrive.

I started downstairs in the toddler room for about 15 kids, including some two-year old’s. These kids really don’t know how to sing along to anything but Old MacDonald, but we had a good time. One girl kept on saying too loud, even when I simply strummed the guitar. Perhaps ‘too intense’ would be a better phrase. I caught myself thinkin’ that this was pretty hard and I worked up a sweat in the first set.

I headed upstairs for the preschool kids, and things were easier and the kids more receptive to singing along, although the ‘call and response’ songs took some work. I brought out the scarves and the rhythm instruments and we rollicked and rolled. I did Baby Shark for the first time in a long time.

The last group was the older kids, and, surprisingly, they jumped on board right away, perhaps since I had been there before. No ‘attitudes’ to speak of, and that was novel for this age group. The special wrinkle today was a signer for a young deaf girl. So I had an interpreter right next to me the whole show. We had a great time, again with the scarves and instruments.

The interpreter invited the girl to put here hands on my guitar when I played I Like Peanut Butter and she lit up. A powerful moment, and when I did ‘the big ending’ she yelled out with every one else. A perfect capture of the moment. Sometimes things just work out.

Three sets in a row kind of wore me out, but a good ‘worn out’.

I have a date later today, my first with Lorrie, and that really has me verklempt.

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.

The hill side.

I was pleased to be asked to add a short set to the festivities at the rejuvenated Berks Fiddle Fest, post-Covid. It’s been moved from Topton’s community park to the old Doe Mountain ski slopes, now a resort, Bear Creek Mountain. I think the festival has lost some of its charm, as nice as the new digs are.

I was asked to do a thirty minute set in between the various fiddle contests. I followed the 13 – 18 age category. The slope area formed a nice amphitheater, and there was a nice crowd out in front of me, though the sun was pretty brutal today. I set up my guitar and did a quick sound check and launched into Don’t Call Me Early. During the song, I asked for a choral response and got absolutely nothing. That kind of gave me the information I needed for this challenge.

I followed with Blue Mule, and during my introduction I asked for the people’s favorite tall tale, and, again, I got nothing back. I rolled into the song. glad to do a bluegrassy type of tune. I then did Branching Out, again asking for a call and response during the refrain. Nada. I gave up and just sang my own response.

Next was Giants, and finally got the audience to give me back “They’re Big, They’re Bad” and the spooky noises. I got a little vindication on this one. I got the “one more song” nudge from behind the stage and finished with Lessons From Pete, mentioning that getting kids to sing along, dance along was the whole point of what I try to do with kids (and these adults), trying to create a deeper community connection.

The stage.

I played well (only one repeated verse) and thought I did a good job. It was pretty hot and felt drained after just a half hour.

As nice as the new venue is, the festival has lost the communal nature, and I experienced that with my inability to get folks to chip in. In some messaging later on from some of my friends who go to this festival to hang out and jam, the feeling was mutual. No trees to play under, escape the sun. One friend said he played under a ski lift, not exactly the idyllic setting one would hope for, for a fiddle festival.

Still, it was nice that the three fiddle sessions on stage brought out folks who were willing to get up in front of people and try their best: some excellent players, some beginners but all willing to take a chance in front of strangers. Good for them; too bad for the audience, though. So it goes.

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.

My friends at the Bethlehem Food Coop asked me to play for a block party on the North Side at Friendship Park, a small city park. I was signed up for a two hour set from 4 to 6 pm, and I was glad that it wasn’t terribly hot. I set up on the macadam under a pop-up tent with jump ropes and hula hoops spread out in front of me, with various community vendors spread out (Food Coop, Bicycle advocacy, etc.) and the mayor was on hand as well as various public servants.

I started out playing tunes with my handy dandy amp, mike and guitar. Gradually, folks drifted by and kids started to pick up instruments, and join in. Grandmothers, dads, moms, etc. joined in, played with the hula hoops and generally mixed it up with me. Doing my thang….

In these small, one-on-one situations, I’ve been breaking down a song and giving the kids a break on their rhythm instrument, and it’s been working out nicely. The kids sense that this is their time to shine and have been nailing the improvisations. A nice way to share the stage and create some magic with the kids (and the pride of the on-looking grandparent, too). It also stretches my material during the long set.

Folks appreciate having a sound track for the event, and watching kids and families having some fun making music. Adults I know in the community stop by and say hello. I even got to give a hug to my friend Gail who’s been estranged due to a political kerfuffle with her wife. I felt good that we were able to share that moment together. And that’s what a community block party is all about.

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.


This was a scorcher today at Musikfest. I signed up for a half hour freebee set at this tented stage with beer on one end and MF merchandise on the other, with a few tables of folks escaping from the sun on a Monday afternoon. I’m not sure why I sign up for this gig, but I came away with a CD sale and six sets of Martin strings.

I did a good set of my songs: Don’t Call Me Early, Here Comes the Sun, Giants, Giant, Legends, Lessons from Pete, We Are Welcomed, and a couple more. The nice thing about this gig were to two extra Martins on stage that I got to bang on: the new SE-13 model and a D-28, a big body Martin that I rarely get to play. I still prefer my good ole 000-15 Mahogany though.

My left hand stood up under the conditions so I’m pretty glad that worked out today. Still, I was wrung out in the heat and humidity.

Tomorrow I play for pay at Stadtplatz with Kris Kehr.

These society gigs are always quite curious. I knew that this was going to be quite the posh setting when Matt sent me a photo of his back yard overlooking a North Cove in Old Saybrook. I had picked this one up from one of my farmers’ market gigs in Madison so I figured that this would be fancy date.

Still, I low-balled my pay scale in spite of the long commute from PA, but I need the work and I’m always curious as to what these gigs entail. Still, it was a well-paid gig for me.

Matt signed me up for the first three hours (2 – 5 pm) of a six hour party, with another musician coming in after me. I made the trip on a Saturday morning in good time and got there to set up before the party got started. Lots of prep going on, valet parking, food servers, etc. I had a pop-up tent for me, looking out over the cove, a fan and some shade. I settled in for a three-hour set. I made small talk with a fellow from Nashville who was a friend of Matt’s and a player himself. I felt at home.

My view from the pop-up tent.

It was in the 90’s but I didn’t really suffer too much. Lots of older women were checking up to see if I had enough water to drink, and though I didn’t get “applause” through out the gig, I could tell folks enjoyed the music, several of whom thanked me for my set.

The food was pretty amazing: clams, oysters, mussels, etc. and, apparently I missed the lobster late on. Lots of folks hanging out, swimming in the pool, chatting, socializing. I simply provided a sound track and I’m fine with that.

I played pretty much through the three hours, and my voice was a little gruff towards the end. But, my repertoire made it through, mixing my bag of folk, oldies, country, etc. My Nashville friend complimented my songs, singing and guitar work – that was appreciated.

I packed up my stuff as the next fellow came in, chatted with some folks, got my car back from the valets and headed back to PA with my fee (and a nice tip). It was a twelve hour gig, all in all, and, as always, worth the trip to CT and back.

Saucon Valley Farmers’ Market in the morning – only a ten minute commute for this one.

This was the second Wilmington Park gig of the summer for me so I had some peace of mind as to what to expect. Heading out with time to spare, I was surprised when, on the Blue Route south, my GPS’s estimate of arrival time jumped 45 minutes to exactly 11:00 am, my start time. Sure enough, as I got to about 22 miles away, things began to crawl. I called ahead to Sid, my trusted liaison, to let him know I’d be there “nick ‘o time”. Sure enough, I pulled up to the park exactly at 11 am.

Mack Park

Sid had things ready for me to plug in, under a nice tree, while a group of kids and counsellors were gathering not far away. As I was ready to begin, that group got up and walked away towards a different part of the park, leaving me with a dad and his two kids. (They were at the last gig, too. Cool.)

So, I set in with the four of us. Eventually, another group moved into the park and I invited them over but only five or so girls came over from that group. (Apparently, the rest of the group was being disciplined. Sheesh).

It was a scattered beginning to the gig for me, so I opened up the bag, invited the girls to grab and instrument and play. Eventually, I jettisoned the mike and amp and simple worked with the kids in front of me. One particular girl was all in, and was a delight to work with. As I did Jelly in the Dish, she picked up on the idea, and started making it about being on the beach. It was a pretty creative avenue, so we took off on that, making a day on the beach sounds. I could use this down the line.

Things were scattered on my part, and as we neared the end of the hour, a few kids headed off to the water spray part of the park, and I wrapped things up early, not with a bang but a whimper. Sid and I packed our stuff up, as Sid smoked the joint I found next to my amp.

The travel home was quick and direct, but I felt that I hadn’t done my best on this one. I’ll feel better when the pay drops in my bank account mid-month.