Last winter, when I would come home to a cool house (propane was at record prices and I didn't really want to use it when I didn't need it), I spent my evenings getting a fire going, cooking dinner, and sitting gazing blankly into the fire the rest of the night. It was a brutal winter, with low temps in the -30's and -40's. My fingers would not thaw enough to play an instrument.
Still, I ended up playing a couple gigs in late March.
This night, at the Chickadee Coffeehouse in Barnum, MN, was perhaps the best gig ever. The Chickadee is a great, cozy venue, but what made it special were all of my friends who showed up. My Facebook "fan club" took up an entire long table and consisted of people I'd met in real life, and people I hadn't. Good friends all, and I am so grateful. Here's the set list:
Let the Mystery Be (Iris DeMent)
Birches (Bill Morrissey)
Souvenirs (John Prine)
Carolina Pines (Kate Wolf)
Across the Great Divide (Kate Wolf)
Arrow (Cheryl Wheeler)
Tecumseh Valley Townes Van Zandt)
Redtail Hawk (Kate Wolf)
Irish set- flute: Lark in the Morning, Cooley’s/Sheehan’s, Tobin’s/Banish Misfortune/Smash the Windows, Danny Boy
Our Town (Iris DeMent)
Why Don’t You Just Go Home (Greg Brown)
Tower Song (Townes Van Zandt)
Here in California (Kate Wolf)
Angel From Montgomery (John Prine)
Barroom Girls (Gillian Welch)
Early (Greg Brown)
Rexroth’s Daughter (Greg Brown)
The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore (Jean Richey)
Girl From The North Country (Bob Dylan)
Tomorrow Is A Long Time (Bob Dylan)
Josefin’s Waltz (flute) (Vasen)
Then on March 29, I played at the Black Cat Coffeehouse in Ashland, Wisconsin. The Hermit had arranged this through someone he knew there. This was a slightly more challenging gig. It was in the afternoon, when people weren't there specifically to hear me, and I didn't have my tribe of Facebook friends there. I had hardly any support from the staff, except "you can set up there". Not to say the staff there are not good, this was just an anomaly for them. And, I had to borrow a couple of microphones (thanks Nathan Frazer!) and bring my own sound system, which consisted of a Crate acoustic guitar amp with mic input. It worked, I guess.
To sum it up, that gig I felt awkward; hard to find the chords, hard to find my voice. Or so it seemed. So I stuck with what was familiar to me, which, I had to remind myself, this crowd had never heard before. Some things worked though. I remember two people specifically: one young woman, probably a Northland College student, who had seen on my poster that I played Kate Wolf, and had come to hear me play Kate Wolf. So I played a couple requests from her. The second was a hippie-looking father who had brought his young daughter and who seemed to really enjoy my selection of music. Thanks to both of you, you made that gig feel worth it to me. Because it's all about the people you connect with, never mind the ones who keep talking through your songs.
I also played a Wednesday night series at the Carlton County Fairgrounds in Barnum on July 31st, and at the Sunday morning farmer's market at TJ's Country Corner Store in Mahtowa, MN a couple weeks later. For the latter, I finally invested in my own microphones and stands.To be honest, I have not used them since.
On the docket this year: As yet nothing, though I need to call the Chickadee. I think I could be ready for another March gig. Then in June, The Hermit and I will be attending our first music festival in a while, the inaugural Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Awesome lineup. And, did someone say "Airstream"?
Yep, this is our new "home away from home". The story of how we found it will have to be another post.
I'll leave you with this: "Why Don't You Just Go Home", by Greg Brown, from March 14, 2014 at the Chickadee.