RockRoots had the privilege and pleasure to play for the good folks, kids and teachers, near Atlantic City today. It’s a time to reflect on the power of music; it’s an awesome device that creates community and positive energy in our world. My thanks to the guys in the band who continue to reach out to every audience we play for.

“I love your music and I would love to meet you in real life. I have 2 CD’s of yours. I have “Peanut Butter and Jelly”. That one kind of got scratched because I listened to it all the time. My CD player always ran out of batteries because I had your CD in there 24/7. I also have “Shake It”. That one I keep safe and I only use it when I clean my room. I don’t want that one to get scratched too bad.”

Nice to know my music is being used productively. I’m replacing the Peanut Butter CD for her. I’ve never considered myself 24/7 before. No wonder I’m tired at the end of the day.

Another beautiful day to play! This time it was in a park grove in Trumball, CT, part of a regular noon time Tuesday family concert series. Last year it was rainy, and a “select” audience showed up. Today, my goodness, we had a crowd. I did it au plen aire, a mangled French expression for “out in the air”, no sound system (oops), but the kids gathered around and we had a ball. Unplugged.

Interestingly enough, I had my bag of rhythm instruments out, and I said, “Come up and pick up an instrument.” Well, for the first time, a little girl went right for my 1920’s mandolin. Whoa! Oh, well, that’s what I said, and I should always watch what I say around kids…. But you know that.

Off to Annapolis, crack o’dawn….

We attended your concert tonight in Pen Argyl, PA and I wanted to tell you how wonderful it was to see you perform. Your enthusiasm and energy was unbelievable and you really connected with your audience. When my friends suggested we come to the concert with them, we had no idea what we were getting into… but once we got there, it was great! We are now planning to come and see you at Musikfest in August too.. and we are bringing some more people with us!

I also wanted to thank you for spending some time with us after the concert was over and singing with the kids. I must say.. you MADE their day!! Before we even left for the concert the kids were talking about it… but then it continued all night long!! As a teacher, I understand that sometimes you just want to go home… but I also understand what it is like to touch the hearts and minds of kids. Thanks again for being so wonderful to them!

Thanks for the kind words, Debbie.

Just drove back to Bethlehem, with a fabulous July sundown. I just played in Pen Argyl, PA on an old-fashioned clam-shell stage in a small town park. The old folks come and park their chairs, in the back – it’s safer there. The families spread blankets and old friends come out of the woodwork.

So, there I was, mixing it up for the assembled scene, when this guy and his wife and two kids pull up on one of the benches near the front. I thought to myself – that looks like John Gorka – but nah…what’s he doing in deepest, darkest Pennsylvania? So, I go on, and, as I do so often, I break a string, do a few more songs and take a break to repair the damage. (I have to say, the old guitar did remarkably well as a five string guitar…)

It was John, my old buddy and folk legend… His mom lives two blocks away, and they were in town visiting and saw my name on the park sign. I played “Branching Out” for the crowd, embarrassed him (not really). Looks like I’ll have to check on if I did it right, and re-learn it from my CD.

Simply a wonderful night, playing music in a park on a Sunday with old and new friends.

Busy week ahead in CT, MD, NJ and CT.

I just spent two intense and exciting days in Philly as part of an artistic/musical panel for PennPAT, a wonderful Pennsylvania resource for touring aritists (one I was lucky enough to be part of when I lived there). The panel listened to ~75 acts, reviewed promo, and decided on who would be added to the state roster. Classical, folk, jazz, world, and many interesting niches therein.

The panel included Larry Ridley, who toured on bass with Monk for 10 years (imagine how he hears music?!), Gabrielle Goodman, jazz vocalist from MA, Anthony Kelley, Duke professor of composition, and Vanessa Whang, arts consultant and musician from NYC. It was really neat to discuss musical excellence amongst these folks. It’s nice to be invited up to the White Tower every once in a while.

Thanks to PennPAT and Katie West for putting us to work – and feeding us. The chocolate brownies were really, really good!

I traveled to Port Chester for a recreation dept. gig in the Kings St. Park. Great kids and fun counselors. It’s so important that the counselors participate and have fun. Often, the teens don’t loosen up, and the little kids see that and react similarly. These counselors had it down, and a party happened.

I then headed back to Madison for a return trip to Strong House – an elder facility I’ve been to a couple of times. I took my bag o’ shakers – a trick I picked up from my toddlers’ experience – and it was was really good. It kept the folks in the game, and we had a hoot! Looks like I’ll be back regularly, and they’re working on a grant for music and Alzheimer’s, so I hope to expand my understanding of this powerful thing called music. Always curious…..

After playing Saucon Valley Country Club on the Fourth, I passed by the Sleepy Hollow Graveyard and on to Croton on Hudson for a day camp gig. Hot and sweaty!

Saturday was a delightful day performing along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg. As folks strolled up and down this riverside park. I performed at the Children’s Stage and got to hear a wonderful African-American storyteller, Mr. Jojo, from Philadelphia, playing an African “harp” and spinning tales from the Georgia South Sea Islands and other locales. Good stuff! Back home to CT….

Interesting day on the road…. Having played twice on Thursday in the Lehigh Valley, I drove to CT for the first of my Beach concerts back in Madison. Ooops, it’s at 6:00 rather than 7:00, a surprise for me, too. Anyway, folks were there waiting, and we preceded to kick up the sand. And then, pack up and back to PA for a Harrisburg Musicfest (c, no k) gig on Saturday.

I caught an old time Gene Autry radio show on WDVR (real country music) , late night radio at it’s best. Great songs, corn-pone humor, hot cowboy swing, sentimental ballads, and a radio drama about a bucking horse that couldn’t be ridden. Needless to say, it was great radio, especially with all the other stuff on the scan dial. Thanks, Gene, for bringin’ this cowboy back to my ranch in Bethlehem. Off to Harrisburg!

Jim Kweskin and his Jug Band did that tune, and it gets stuck in my head every once in a while. Especially this last few weeks. Kim and I and the kids are pulling up roots in Madison and moving a little westward to the more bucolic and less sub-urbane Northford. We’ve found a smaller house, less-expensive place – nice gardens – and are moving there this week. We’ve been packing things into a POD – yes, officially I’m am a pod person – clearing out stuff (sooo much stuff) and paring down. Anyone want comics, cassettes???

So, the new address is official this weekend. And my cell will be my official phone. Changes, man…..

A Day playing in the park. Can’t beat it. I gathered with my new CT artist friends on New Haven’s great green. Every town should have such an oasis – trees, grass, music, art, people and families. Town oddballs, too. Very interesting.

Anyway, the CT “arts council”, now called CT Council on Culture and Tourism – CCCT, from now on – featured the roster of artists doing showcases. see and hear other musicians, poets and writers, a muralist, a lady in a corset, storytellers and illustrators. I got to emcee the Yellow stage, so it was busy. But, I shucked my shoes and bear-footed it on the green. Ah, yes.

More showcases, CCCT. The artists need ’em.

I played my last school for the season on Tuesday, a delightful K class in West Haven, CT. Delightful, in that I didn’t have to set up sound equipment, just take my instruments, and delightful in being able to just play with the kids, dancing to Sally Walker. I had the luxury of stretching the time, ask questions. Nadine, the teacher…. I forgot to play Nadine for her and the kids…. oh, well.

Monday’s school was in Maple Shade, NJ, and, by golly, we played outdoors under the shade of the old maple tree. The kids were rammier than usual, but 3rd and 4th graders are always fun to play for.

I’ll be emceeing on New Haven Green for the CT CCT (Art’s Council) and its showcase of roster performers. I always enjoy meeting the the other artists and getting to see what they do so well. Performers rarely get to see each other. Til then.

This is a busy Monday for the lads – Eatontown, NJ at 9 am (in the pouring rain) in NJ and then out to Hellertown, PA this afternoon. It’s now a bright, sun-shiny day! (I Can See Clearly Now) The Saucon Valley MS show was a lot of fun, with 600 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Since Nick the Bass Player is in Europe, touring with Eric Steckel, we are featuring Steady Maides on his wonderful beat-up P base. What a guy!

I’ll be part of an CT Artists’ Showcase on New Haven Green, as part of the 12th annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas, from noon to 5 pm on Saturday, June 23rd. This is great opportunity to see 30 performances of my fellow CT performing and teaching artists: jazz, folk music, classical music, drumming, poetry, theatre, mime, storytellers, dancers and more. Stay tuned for my set time, but it should be a hoot and a half!

Thursday’s show is as close to a beer sponsorship as we’ll ever get. Actually, it’s part of a “Bring Your Child to Work” day for the folks at Anheuser Busch in Newark. These are great events, having done several recently, especially for the parents! Beats working for an hour.

We’re also working on a Blues Show as an addition to our regular RockRoots show. Stay tuned!

RockRoots celebrated Friday the 13th at the Village School in Skillman, NJ yesterday. Wonderful audiences – 3rd and 4th grades. The school is in the middle of the old Skillman Village, featured in Weird New Jersey, a deserted NJ State rehabilitation community. The site has ~ 100 buildings, soon to be raized this summer. Kind of eerie, but the kids and teachers are thriving. Another amazing visit on the old gig trail. There ya go.

Well, my visit with the moms and wee folk in Newark, Delaware, was a hoot, and a nice introduction to that area. I’ll be back on August 15th, and I’m looking forward seeing my new friends there.

Anyway, the answer to the question is: New Jersey. Thursday is a visit to Ridgewood, NJ with RockRoots in the morning, and then I get to hear a great French guitarist Pierre BenSusan back at Godfrey’s. Another day full of music…..

I’m looking forward to being able to be in better touch with you all. I’m liable to post thoughts, discoveries and tales of my travels on this site. Let’s see where it goes!

I’m off to a Toddler Concert in Newark, DE tomorrow, playing for the wee folk. It’s always neat to see little kids react to music, especially how they start to dance right away. I love it. How we lose that ability to let go and move has always been one of my big questions about becoming an adult. I can’t sit still listening to music. Oh, well. I’ll never grow up.

I’m working on Musikfest in Bethlehem and now Harrisburg, PA this summer. I’m also excited about returning to the Florence Griswold Museum in CT this summer.

Stay tuned……