All entries filed under Summer Concerts

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.

Father Folk Stage

It was a miracle that I even got to play a set at this delightful private folk festival, nestled in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, near Mohnton, Pa. I’ve done sets here over many summers, and it always is a highlight of my summer. It’s a festival put on by friends, with camping, a great stage and sound system and folk gathering in a glade down a dirt road and behind some cornfields. It’s by word of mouth, and that presented me with a large problem in finding it this year. More on this later. 

From 2021

I got there nick ‘o time at 6 pm, made it to the sound tent where they said there was no problem and I would go on in about 15 minutes for a 45 minute set. Phew.

I was certainly warmed up from the four hours of gigs already today, but this audience was the one I really wanted to play for: intelligent folkies ready for music. I plugged in and launched with Don’t Call Me Early, July, encouraging the glade to sing along, which, after some hesitation, they did. It was important for this space to hear itself sing, especially with the philosophy behind the festival itself.

The rope swing in the glen.

My strings were starting to thud, but being plugged in gave me the juice to play hard and clean. I really nailed the set with Pay BoDiddley, Giants, Giant, Rosie, Lessons from Pete and got some nice comments from folks as I headed back up the hill.

I tried desperately to find the GPS of the site, combing through old emails and the web site, but that information is strictly held, so I departed Allentown thinking I would be able to remember some of land marks and exits along the way. I set my device on Knauer, PA. I made to the area with about 45 minutes to spare, but found nothing even remotely familiar. I even asked a young girl working at the local “Wawa” and she pointed off in one direction. I was driving off into oblivion around 6 pm and I pulled over to set my GPS to “Go Home”, writing off playing at this festival, disappointed in my not making the gig.

I pulled back on the road and not 200 yards down the road, I spied the turtle logo on a sign. Eureka! There it was, the familiar dirt road heading into the corn field! Amazing. I actually found the gig (or it found me…) Rather mystic.

Allentown’s Pocket Park

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

Father Tuck Park

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

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

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


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

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

My view of the Steel Stacks arena.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The good folks at Christ Lutheran in Hellertown have asked me to play for their first summer service for several years now, usually a salute to the graduating seniors in the congregation and for the kids. Only three kids today.

I picked out songs from three of my gospel buddies: Bruce Cockburn, Pete Seeger and John Gorka, adding on Simple Gifts at the end.

I had prepared Creation Dream as an instrumental prelude, but the pastor began with his notes, prayers, etc. When he introduced Turn, Turn, Turn and walked towards the side door, I called out that I hadn’t done the prelude, that I was going to do it, and I said flippantly, “Go ahead back to your office, I’ll do my song.” There were chuckles, and I kinda surprised myself. It was okay with Pastor Phil. I did a decent job on the song on my new SE Martin.

I then quickly went into Turn, Turn, Turn and played it strong and the congregation stepped up as well. For the Offertory, I brought out John’s Good Noise and delivered a solid gospelesque version of the song, getting the congregation to clap along on the last choruses. It sounded great, and served up some energy. I finished with Simple Gifts with the audience singing along, and then as an instrumental as folks headed out.

I hung around for a bit as some elder folks came up to say hello, share their remembrances of my past gigs, and some common friends. I headed down to the buffet in the basement, talked with Pastor Phil and some other parishioners. It was a very nice gig.

I’ve been doing a couple sets for my friend Jeanine Villano-George every Labor Day  Weekend (‘cept for last year, of course) as a freebee just for the opportunity to play for this interesting cross-section of people: kids, families, old folks, wanderers, etc. Some how, I seem to find the material to entertain the folks and get them invovled. Always a challenge. This year, I had Thursday and Monday in the afternoon – Thursday was relatively light and Monday pretty busy.

Things were on a budget this year with the stage not so far off the ground, but not a big deal. The 4-H display was pretty skimpy but that’s all a function of the strange year it’s been.

Diving into Americana

I put up this image for the Thursday gig on FB, saying that I was diving into Americana. It raised a ruckus and I had to add that no guitars were harmed in this performance. I like the fact that I will take on these gigs that few other folkies will do.

Giants and Thundertubes

I’m always open to doing adult material but will definitely lean on doing the family stuff if there are kids in the audience and that was the case for both days. My obligation is to entertain the kids and the adults always get a kick out of those interactions.

Jelly in the Dish

Barnyard Dance, We Gave Names to the Animals, Giants (of course), I Like Peanut Butter, The Cat Came Back, I Wanna Be a Dog, etc. This weekend I tried Jelly in the Dish with the scarves as my final piece and it worked quite well, especially when the kids started off with the scarves, and, bit by bit, I was able to put the scarves in the hands of most of the adults so that the piece became a unifying spectacle. I brought up a young girl to lead the folks with the scarves on Monday.

I received some good feedback from folks who work the fair: Jeanine, Sam, the sound man, the security guard, the 4-H lady, and, I hear tell, the woman who works the rest room. They all say I’m the most entertaining of the acts, which is gratifying though I still feel I’m just winging it. A lot comes from my commentary that I pepper my “show” with, and folks appreciate the spontenaity of the situation.

I gave away my Peanut Butter and Playground CD’s to the families, sold a few Troubadour CD’s on Sunday, and did alright on tips for both days. The best payoff is the responce I get from this really diverse audience.



I was asked to serve up some family music at this friendly (and large) late summer community festival at St. Ann’s Church up in Emmaus for a Friday and Saturday 5 pm set. I’m not sure how this landed in my lap, but, apparently I did play the St. Ann’s school last century, and several folks suggested me. Since I’m getting used to playing for folks these days, I jumped at the chance.

I was able to set up on the stage in a tent before the evening’s rock and roll bands went on at 7 pm. I brought my small system and it seemed to be enough for the space. At 5 pm, there’s not much action so I started out solo, and gradually some kids, girl scouts, parents and grandparents moved into range. I brought out the stuffed instrument bag, opened it up and away we go….

Friday had a bit more kids joining in and Saturday was a bit tougher, though one dad/son boogied for the whole set. That was cool. I ran into a few folks who knew who I was (the music teacher at the school who plays oboe!) but it was sparce. The small interactions were good, but, again, I really have no draw for my kids’ shows.

The sponsors were appreciative and thanked me for providing some music for the kids. They also helped me get my stuff to and from the stage which was a big help. They paid me well (what I asked for…) and will let me know about next year. It was a tough gig though.

Bill, Dave,, Rachel, Ben and Frank on the outdoor stage.

I was invited to be part of a musical celebration of my friend Bill Schachter’s life on Thursday. Held on the large outdoor stage in the parking lot of Touchstone Theater, I was joined on stage with Bill Hall, Rachel Schachter, Ben Wright and Frank Pappalardo, complete with good sound and lights. Ben was in charge and based the format on a Dave’s Night Out round robin.

Tables and chairs were set out with pizza, ice cream and surprisingly good weather for a summer night. Carol, Bill’s wife was in good and boisterous spirits and was the designated heckler for the evening, often chiming in with wonderful asides. Rachel and Bill did some wonderful songs and I added (We Are Welcomed, Branching Out, Giants (Bill S’s favorite one of mine) and Shoo That Fly.

Rachel’s voice!

Folks remenisced about Bill’s quirky songwriting and Rachel, Ben and Frank talked about their times playing his music and his songs. It was quite moving.

We were invaded by some nasty flies as the sun set, and all of us were dealing with singing and playing while we dealt with this plague. So, when I played Shoo That Fly, the audience gladly stepped it up with the singing and the shooing. Funny how these moments literally come out of the ether for me.

We finished up with David Mallett’s Garden Song, which was a touchstone for Carol and Bill’s relationship so many years ago. Bill wrote some great verses to it as he wooed his future bride.

A motley crew.

Ramona just stopped up to the apartment as I’m writing this and said that she hadn’t seen me smile so much in a long time. There ya go.

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

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

An elegant stage set.

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

My sight lines, with my monitor to the right.

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

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

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

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

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

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


This is a freebee gig that I sign up to do, just to have a little more presence at Musikfest. It’s a 30-minute set in a large tent under the Hill-to-Hill bridge in the thick of the festival – Lagerplatz. Yes, beer.

On one end is a big trailer of beer and rows of taps of Yuengling and on the other end is MF merch so there’s stuff going on both ends. In the middle is the stage and tables and chairs with chatter and noise going on. It’s up to me to try to gain some semblance of a show while everything is going on. It’s a bar gig.

My friend Nick was on sound and he did a great job to get as much umph out of my Martin, but there’s only so much a solo guitarist can do. Still, I managed to chat, play strong and engage as best I could. Giants is always a good tune to do early in the set. Don’t Call Me Early, July, Giants, Giant, Rosie, Pay Bo Diddley, Lessons from Pete. It was good, but I found myself exhausted after only a half hour set, especially with my voice.

I treated myself to some Rita’s on the way home. I sold a couple of CD’s, ran into Tommy Crist from the old R&R band Pickens, and chatted with a couple of other fans. It wasn’t as hot as the last couple of days, but still I was drenched.

Off to TV-39 tomorrow morning for my big Kids’ Jam on television – no kids. It will present its own challenges.