April 22, 2007. I played and sang songs from all three of my CDs at the Adams Avenue Roots and Folk Festival in San Diego, California.
Hmmm, how could I have handled this differently? My niche audience is predominantly cultural creatives, and I was booked into a country western bar in a large tent that was part of the festival. Four country western bands played before me and one after me – for example, in the photo above, High, Wide and Handsome. I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I’d been hired to do, but I thought wistfully about the Earth Day Fair in Balboa Park, which was happening simultaneously, knowing that was where the San Diego contingent of my tribe was listening to music that day. I had spoken there in April 2000, kicking off my eight-month cross-country tour for the 30th anniversary edition of Living on the Earth and my first CD, Music from Living on the Earth.
The people attending the AARFF looked conservative, but the people playing music and running the craft and import booths did not. My (enthusiastic) audience at the Beer Garden consisted of the excellent western swing band that played before before me (above) and the band after me, Mark, the friendly sound guy, my friend Jodi Shagg, who kindly came with me and helped me with my merchandise table, and a couple dozen not-so-country-western types lingering in the bar after the two-steppers stepped out for some fresh air while the hippie girl in purple sang her folk songs.
If I’d been booked on one of the three outdoor stages at the festival, I would have fit in. At one stage, for example, I heard a delta blues guitar player and singer, a Celtic trio, and a Kingston-Trio-style folk ensemble (above). But I didn’t know that ahead of time, and, in any case, I wasn’t the one booking the acts. I got the gig through Sonic Bids, and was grateful.
At one booth I bought a stack of silk scarves made from vintage saris to bring to Japan as gifts. The importer, Roberta, plays bass guitar and exudes Brazilian joie de vivre. The booths burgeoned with tie-dyed clothes, bellydance costumes, embroidered patchwork fashions, handmade pottery and folk art jewelry that dazzled my eyes, but made me wonder whether the vendors were making any sales from the hot dog and beer crowd.
Bluegrass jam session at the booth of Old Time Music.