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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a long time coming for me, returning to perform in an elementary school again, and I was glad to shake some of the rust off. I headed down the Blue Route to Wayne, PA for a 2 pm assembly for about 100 Kindergarteners and five teachers. I set up in a relatively small but carpeted assembly room. I parked my small amp, guitar in front of the stage, conversed with the PTA mom for a half hour and in came the kids. They seemed a little sluggish, but no matter.

I launched into I Like Peanut Butter, The Tuttie Tah, Giants and more. I was a little sluggish myself when I started Bear Hunt (.how many thousands of times I’ve done this?) but gathered my thoughts and pulled it off. I also forgot my bag of scarves for Jelly in the Dish so I was kicking myself for my lack of mental accuitity. It’s been two months since I’ve performed, and, with a bout of RSV and my cancer-recovery, I’ve been in a fog. I guess it’s creeping senior-ility.

Regardless, it was a good show, and we finished off dancing. I improvised Jelly by throwing in some dance moves in between verses, jumping up where I usually do the scarf-toss. It worked. My reflection session at the end was good, as well. The teachers liked the dancing, animals and rhyming with We Gave Names, and one teacher liked my reverse memorization that I did with Tutti Tah (we talked about the moves in reverse order) and more. I particularly like that, after the kids tell me what they liked, the adults in the room get to speak in front of the kids, reinforcing what we did outloud. I think the kids pick up on that.

I packed up, with the nice help of the PTA mom, and headed back to the Lehigh Valley. It was good to be back in the saddle after too long on the sidelines. I wish I could do it more often.

Gigs are far and few these days, but I particularly enjoyed my Dave’s Night Out with old Shimersville Sheik band mate Roy Smith. The Sheiks were a really fine string band back in the 70’s, along with Jerry Bastoni, Chris Simmons and various other ne’er-do-wells. We were pretty esoteric in our repertoire, covering bluegrass, old country, jug band, Australian tunes and British Music Hall songs. We were an “art” band and got to play some interesting gigs at festivals, bars, and even opening night at Godfrey’s.

The Sheiks at Lehigh ’75.

Roy’s musical journey has been remarkable as he gradually lost his hearing in his 30’s. “A lifetime musician, Roy developed hereditary deafness, and now relies on MED-EL cochlear implants. He represented the United States at MED-EL’s International Music Festival for Deaf Musicians. Roy is not only an advocate for the transformative power of cochlear implants, but also a testament to their impact on musical expression.”

In this conversational format, Roy and I got to talk about his fear as his hearing subsided, what it’s like now to play music again, and other stops along the way. We played some old band tunes like Sheik of Araby, Gospel Ship, Ned Kelly as well as others from both of our current repertoires, including Simple Gifts, We Are Welcomed and others. We did a session earlier in the afternoon to help allay some of our questions about the material as well as catch up on how our lives have flowered over the last 45 years.

Open night at Godfrey's with Mary Faith Rhoads

Opening night at Godfrey with Mary Faith Rhoads – 3.19.76

He had the support of his wife Jan, incredible leaps in technology and the formitable strains of living in his own head for years. He even shunned music as it was noise to him. Sadly, he was unable to share his music with his daughter growing up. I think that I would have gone nuts with out my ability to perform and play music. Deep respect for Roy.

Sheiks at Muhlenberg College

Thanks to the cochlear implants (three generations now) the chips in his brain decode sounds for him, in both speaking mode and in music mode (more bass), but still he has to grapple with keys, intonation and more. Quite a struggle, but now he can communicate with the world. Wonderful!

The discussion was enlightening, and folks came away with a new appreciation for the power of music, modern technology and human spirit. It was a shame that we had such a small audience, though we recorded video from the set for future play.

A good night, all around.

 

I was looking forward to sharing the stage with Doug Ashby, bluesman, fellow radio programmer and folk historian. His band Tavern Tan is a regular treat at Godfrey’s and my respect for him as a musician in the Valley is quite strong. We’ve never had the chance to swap songs before so this was a good chance.  For extra credit, my sister Janet, daughter Rosalie and her fiancé Jourdan were in attendance.

My voice has been ravaged from this non-Covid flu, and I limped my way through my songs, avoiding some of the high notes. It wasn’t pretty but thanks to a hot microphone, I managed, to a degree.

Doug’s love of early blues has given him a strong repertoire of Robert Johnson, Memphis Minnie and other legendary recording artists. I started with Stealin’, a Memphis Jug Band tune and we were off and running. We swapped Robert Johnson tunes, and we talked about the poetry of these blues and went into detail on ‘she’s got Elgin movements’, something we seemed to return to during the evening.

I invited my friend Steve Capwell up on the stage about 45 minutes in, and, as I found out, Steve and Doug were former Tan-mates (no surprise), so Steve was able to fill in with some fine harp work. All of us are folk programmers and players, so it was muy simpatico. I was able to supply Walkin’ Blues, Santa Assassin (with Rosalie, in the house), Prodigal Son and a few others.

It was a good crowd, for a change, with about 25 folks in the house. The conversation was light but we were able to keep things entertaining and musical.

As I’ve been doing recently, at the end, I went around the audience asking what they liked. This has been a pleasant surprise with a DNO audience. Folks were open and forthcoming: the stories, the way we listen to each other, the instruments, Steve’s harp playing. One gentleman brought up my playing Magic Penny for his young son years ago. (I did a reprise.). They also enjoyed our knowledge and respect for this music and its history.

There were lots of great moments, some good music (in spite of my beat-up voice) and something we can do again in the future.

 

After finishing up at Donegan, I recharged a bit before heading to Bala Cynwyd, PA for a 3 pm holiday show at a preschool at St. John’s church. I had been paid for this back in the early fall, so that gave the gig a different flavor.

I set up my small PA in an open area in the old stone church. I had a chance to take in the marvelous architecture, the amazing stained-glass windows and the quiet power of this space.

I was to play for about 50 kids and 10 teachers and they all trooped in and sat on the marble floor in front of me. I launched into I Like Peanut Butter and the Tutti Tah and followed with some Christmas sing-alongs. The kids were good, and the toddlers were up dancing early on. As is often the case, some of the younger teachers were hesitant in joining in, but I tried to involve them, to minor success.

I handed out scarves to the crowd (I was glad I had put together my entire collection for this), and we danced up a storm to Children, Go Where I Send Thee. It was a good way to get the kids up, sharing scarves with each other and bringing the session to a close, all within in a good 45 time span.

I headed home in late afternoon Philly traffic (I don’t miss this part too much) and landed, tired but satisfied with a busy day on the planet. Just in time to come down with the flu.

Today, we got to premier Let’s Make a Change, written by my afterschool group at Donegan School. It was in the middle of the school’s winter concert, so I sat through the choral group and the instrumental group with their songs. Not to bad.

The instrumental teacher introduced himself as a fan from his primary days at Fountain Hill ES here in town. He remembered clearly The Cat Came Back. That was cool, but I had to tell him that, during the pandemic, I was asked not to play that song because of its racist roots. He agreed that that was strange.

I had set up my small amplifier and mike on stage ahead of time and my turn rolled around. I brought up my kids, taught the assembly crowd the chorus and away we went. The kids tried some of the hand motions to the lyrics but I was concentrating on the words and my presentation. It went off fairly smoothly, and, as we had planned, when we hit the final chorus, the gang picked up scarves and headed out into the audience. It turned out to be quite a nice touch, and as they returned to the stage, we had our ‘big’ ending. Scarves up in air at the final crunch. That went well.

A good conclusion to the five week residency. The song could have been better but I think the kids had a good time as we played rhyming games, fine-tuned the lyrics and added movements. I had hoped for more of the kids’ contribution to the body of the song, but things are decidedly different post-Covid.

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

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

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

Custodian and younger brother.

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

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

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

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

I was disappointed in today’s attendance, with only three students showing up. I was hoping to finish up our song with some energy. Hard to do with only a handful of kids, two of which were the shyest and one who couldn’t speak English. Phew!

We warmed up with some rhythm exercises, trying to create patterns and sharing them with each other. Good work.

We turned to finishing up the song with the final lines of the second and third verses. It was like pulling teeth. We came up with the lines:

Windmills catch the wind and make electricity / blades go round and round, circular mobility. (??!!)

The tides go in and out; we can store that energy / the moon moves the currents across the bubbly sea.

I don’t think the kids knew about the moon and the tides.

I’ve signed up to present the song in an assembly. I was hoping for it to be next week on the 14th, but it’s been moved to Thursday, 21st. I’ll do the morning one, but I have an assembly near Philly in the afternoon.

I don’t know if I’ll have enough kids that actually have rehearsed song, the melody has been in flux as well. I’m not sure if it’s ready for the public, but that’s an important part of the process. Hmmm.

 

It was a good session today for round three at Donegan. I was prepared by pre-writing some material for today. I had no luck trying to start from scratch on the song, but was able to gather some ideas and basic words to work from: hurricane, draught, solar and wind energy, etc. So, I was able to craft three couplets and  quatrains to work from and it worked well for what we have to do to perform something in two weeks.

I used the scarves for a warm-up: movement, emotions, accessories (a new one) and a brief Jelly in the Dish.  I then brought out copies of my lyrics and we dived in, line by line, in trimming out the extra words, while giving me an opportunity to work on the melody and chords. As it turned out, by getting the kids to work on individual lines in repetition, they started to sing them out loud. All to the good.

The couplets were based on the negative effects of climate change, each starting with “Turn on the news”, “Turn on the weather”, “Turn on the radio.”

The quatrains (and chorus) reflected what can be done: solar, wind and tidal. I left off the final line in each of the three verses and we worked hard on writing the last line. We got the first done and will work on the other two next week. They will be prepared for the process and I feel we can wrap it up in time for our show.

Title: to be determined…

Turn on the news, see forests ablaze.                                  Em / D

Smoky Lehigh Valley skies for days and days.                   Em / D  C

 

Let’s make a change – start with you and me.                   G  /  C

We can make a change in our community.                        D  / G

Solar power can be stored in a battery.                              G  /  C

And that’s what really matters to me.                                 D  /  G        B7

 

  1. Turn on the weather, see a hurricane.                     Em  /  D

Our weather is wild, things don’t seem the same.           Em  /  D  C

 

Let’s make a change – start with you and me..                  G  /  C

We can make a change in our community.                        D  /  G

Windmills catch the wind and makes electricity.              G  /  C

….       tba

 

  1. Turn on the radio and we hear that things are really dry. Em /  D

There’s a heat wave going, feels like a hundred five.                     Em  /  D  C

 

Let’s make a change – start with you and me.                            G  /  C

We can make a change in our community.                                 D /  G

The tides go in and out, and we can store that energy.            G  /  C

….     tba

I envision using the scarves after we sing the song. Have the kids run out into the audience with the scarves while I play the refrain on stage, and then, when they return, we’ll do a ‘super-star’ at the end. I think this will be pretty cool.

I learned that the kids don’t have to do all the work and that they’ll pick enough from the modifying, singing, rehearsing and the limited writing to get something valuable from the process. That’s my lesson.

Rolly, Wendi and I did a Dave’s Night Out three or four years ago on Swing Guitar. Tonight’s was topic less and it proved, once again, to be an inspiring and creative evening of music and chat. As usual, there was a small crowd, but that’s not why we do this, and Rolly and Wendi recognize this. It’s good to have friends.

I started out with Roseville Fair, with a nod to Bill Staines, and it set the stage for our round-robin. Wendi brought out several sweet swing tunes, a very nice folkie song, sang some harmonies with me and gave a great exposition on vocal arranging. A smart lass, indeed. Rolly displayed his immense talents on guitar with fine backup leads for both Wendi and myself, several original and quirky original tunes and a spectacular instrumental. He talked about his weekly online concerts (approaching 600) and the community that he has developed as a result. He’s the best.

I tossed in Rodeo Rider, The Barnyard Dance, Sixty Minute Man and finished with Rosie Is A Friend of Mine. It was a good night sharing music among good friends.

I was volunteered to sit in on a panel of arts-entrepreneurs at a NJ high school. Why not? It proved to be an interesting assignment, particularly for me. There were three other folks on the panel: a performing and teaching actress, a stage design gentleman and another teaching artist and director of a playhouse in Bucks County. We were given 15 minutes to expound and then hang around for questions afterward.

It was an early start for me these days in order to start at 9 am. I would say I miss these early drives, but I’d only be half lying. I do love exploring the PA and Jersey landscape.

We were in the large library with a lectern, large projection screen and tables and chairs for about 30 – 40 kids. As the kids drifted in, I volunteered for the opener, and chirped in for the kids that this way, I’d be done first. We were asked to describe our field and give tips to the kids. I decided (as usual, it came late at night in bed) that I would forgo the my list of  achievements and be interactive instead.

I wanted to help the kids discover their own route to being an artist – individual / performing / artist. I started by asking the kids to get out a sheet of paper and put three columns in. First column was Craftsperson. That meant what do you do for yourself to become good in your artistic field (lessons, practice, etc.) For Performing Artist I asked what do you do on stage, with other people, in public (open mikes, bands, teams, etc.) And that left Artist. What do you do to expand your performance and craft to become an Artist. I asked for a lot of feedback from the kids, and while most kids were somewhat ambushed, several bright students responded in kind. All in all, it was a good exercise and I was able to give the kids some of my experiences along the way.  I sat down.

The other three panelists relied on power point presentations and did a fine job of describing their fields. Frankly, it got a little tedious and self-congratulatory, but gave valuable information for the kids. The question period was fairly active and the four of us responded nicely.

It was a good session and the school counsellor said it was the best of the several other similar events. I was particularly glad to do it, and drove home early on a Tuesday, satisfied with my part. I was glad I approached my part the way I did.

Bank Street Annex

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

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

The Nose Bros.

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

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

The Dude himself and me.

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

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

Gigs are far and few these days so I’m especially glad to have a four-week after-school residency at a South Side school – Donegan ES. I’ll do an hour of work/play and hopefully come up with a song about climate change. We’ll see.

The first session on Thursday was fairly scattered as an assembly was wrapping up in the gym, the site for my session. The coordinators were running around, getting snacks and shuffling the other groups off to class rooms. I got a corner in the gym.

My group is a posse of five 4th grade boys, a challenge unto itself. As it turns out, these boys are pretty bright and responsive. One boy speaks a minimum of English, so that will be my challenge for this session.

I started out with I Like Peanut Butter, talked about the guitar, We Gave Names to the Animals and introduced rhythm bag and the rain stick. Through out all this, we chatted, joked around and I got to know the kids better. A couple kids are especially bright and we enjoy our company.

The kids wanted to know if I knew any of the songs from the film Coco, especially Poco Loco. I said I’ll work it up for next week. And, upon reflection during a head-session early morning (trying to sleep), I thought it might be a good inspiration for our climate change songwriting challenge. We’re somewhat crazy to be using carbon-centric fuels when we have wind, sun and tidal technology.

I even had the Peter Gunn tune in my mind. Sheesh….

Who says I’m wasting my time asleep? I have my homework cut out for me.

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.

Gregg, Bill and I decided to recast an evening we did five or six years ago: a song swap Dave’ Night Out. We had a great time. Gregg came up from Winston-Salem, NC and Bill from Morristown, NJ, and me from upstairs. Yes, it was a small audience but lots of Gregg’s friends came out so it was a fresh Godfrey’s audience.

I started things off and passed it to Gregg. Over the course of the evening, Gregg pulled out some great original tunes, including one he co-wrote with David Wilcox. Gregg’s a fine guitarist and uses some inventive tunings that really shape his sound. He also filled some nice leads on my songs. I supplied some mandolin on some of his songs.

Bill Hall, of course, has a delicious selection of original tunes, and he premiered a couple tonight, including one Legends, that is a nod to Gorka’s How Legends are Made and featured a phrase, “The Bard of Fourth Street”. As it flew by, it didn’t sink in that he was referring to me.  I don’t regard myself as a songwriter, but it was a nice gesture.

I did How Legends are Made, Don’t Call Me Early, Lessons from Pete, Ireland, Giants. I played pretty well and was glad I had several farmers’ markets recently to pull my chops together.

One question came up that spurred some discussion: What makes a Jersey song a Jersey song? Bill referenced John Gorka’s I’m From New Jersey about never thinking you’re good enough. I actually talked about my reticence booking Jersey songwriters while I was artistic director at Godfrey’s – too pushy. Gregg talked about his work with Christian Bauman. It was an interesting exploration.

I finished up with Lessons from Pete, and we disbanded after a very refreshing and stimulating evening, as are all of these Dave’s Night Outs.

Friday’s gig at Easton Public Market was one of the better ones, and it was special since my friend Steve Capwell sat in on harp. He’s got a good ear, good tone and knows when to play and not play. All fine traits for a side man.

There were more folks hanging out in the “dining area” and some families as well. that led to some great interactions a young brother and sister, another girl and special interaction with a two-year old girl. The nice thing about playing at the kids is that the adults tune in as well. The girls wanted to dance, which I encouraged, and turned out to be a good focal point for the evening.

The really interesting reaction was from mom and dad and their very young daughter, pre-talking age. As the parents told me, it was her first time listening to live music, and her eyes and attention just locked right in, something I really pick up on. Then, she started making this burbling lips sound, like a motorboat. She was loud, too. I had to stop and comment, “Where’s that sound coming from ?”

Cap’n Steve Capwell and his mule – Lehigh River Canal

Everybody in the place picked up on it as she continued her mouth music as we played. Incredible!

Good tips tonight, which I split with Steve, an artisan pizza for later at home, and good time had by all.

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.

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

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

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

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

Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect for Dave Fry Day at Godfrey’s on Saturday. I knew my TAMA friend Jennifer Ridgway wanted to celebrate my time with TAMA and as a Teaching Artist, but she enlisted Ramona to pull together the local community to drop on by. It turned out to be pretty special.

Bethlehem Mayor W. Reynolds

First of all, I was not looking forward to any kind of spotlight but, in the course of the afternoon, came to appreciate the community I have around me, and it became an opportunity for us to all get together and socialize. I just happened to be at the center.

Daughter Rosalie and her new boyfriend Jordan showed up from RI and son Jaimie, his wife Chelsy and grandson Jayden came up from Pottstown. An unexpected delight for the afternoon!

MC Mark McKenna

Mark McKenna, TA and Touchstone alum, was the emcee and set the tone for the afternoon, as I was ensconced in a make-shift throne. To lead off, Bethlehem’s Mayor William Reynolds spoke briefly about how the arts are healthy for us individually and as a community. He presented me with a fine Proclamation that was particularly well written.

 

Jenn came up and spoke about my history with Teaching Artists of the

Jennifer Ridgway of TAMA

Mid-Atlantic (TAMA)

with several comments from my fellow TAs in the organization, and, indeed, our weekly Monday mornings during Covid were wonderful gatherings of some pretty extraordinary artists. We became good friends during a very hard time.

I was particularly glad that the festivities were to celebrate my career as a teaching artist, as opposed to my music and my Godfrey’s life. Folks from those slices of my life have no real opportunity to see my work in schools, and today was a good way to share the world of Teaching Arts.

Poet Marilyn Hazelton

I was also glad to see and hear from my good friends in our local Teaching Artists of the Lehigh Valley. Bill George, Marilyn Hazelton, Bill Christine, Mary Wright, Doug Roysdon spoke about how we have all benefited from our small, tight community, sharing demonstrations of our pieces. Lots of fooling around and being creative: movement, poetry, music, and other wonderful explorations over the last four years.

Bill George of Touchstone Theater

Bill Christine brought up a raft of friends to give me a rousing kazoo chorus, and special appearance of my grandson Jayden. Special.

Bill Christine’s Kazoo Chorus

I was pleased that other long-time Godfrey’s friends mentioned Cindy Dinsmore’s hand in Godfrey’s place in establishing the artist-friendly atmosphere here in  Bethlehem and good community friends like Anne Hills, LA Williams and others. She deserves a Cindy Dinsmore Day and I’m sure that will happen.

Good friend John Gorka phoned in to say hello. Special treat !

My friend Jaqi Tice presented my Lessons From Pete, adding a melody to my recitative version, and accompanied by good fellow Craig Thatcher. I appreciate her time and effort putting it together, as well as her many other contributions to the event. She remains a dear friend. There.

Having fun!!

I took it upon myself to insert myself in the festivities with my TA exploration Jelly In The Dish, one of favorite routines I use with kids. Few of the people in the room knew what was coming. I was really looking forward for this opportunity get everyone up, moving and playing with the scarves. Craig sat in on guitar. We pushed the tables back and filled up the space controlled chaos, dance, colors. Grandson Jayden really took the spotlight with his movements and big smiles. I think the event really prospered from the exercise, and I got to show my TA chops. I even included a reflection at the end where folks brought up what they liked: Scrapple, using the whole room, scarves in the air, mixing socially. Later, I came to appreciate that I had never experienced the volume of Godfrey’s so filled with such floor to ceiling movement and color. Mission accomplished.

Other folks came up and talked about my Covid series of daily posts, my radio work and other curious reflections on my work in the community. Anne Hills came up and sang a snatch of “Magic Penny” that encapsulates my philosophy well: “Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more.”

There was cake, lots of snacks and soda and lots of folks talking with each other, reconnecting with old friends and making new friends. It was satisfying to have my kids experience the love and respect I enjoy in my home town. A special afternoon, after all.

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.