I performed my last two library shows with Steve Blunt. It has been a lot of fun doing these shows with Steve and I'm sure we'll be doing more together in the future. Steve is a dedicated performer and, I am compelled to add, a really decent guy. I have learned many things during the course of the summer and I've compiled a short list so I may share my knowledge with the masses.
- When asked to clap along with a song, children cannot keep a beat.
- Neither can adults.
We decided that, in true rock & roll fashion, we should end our summer tour with a bang.
Or at least a soggy squish.
On Wednesday we had a gig in Meredith, a lovely town nestled snugly along the crowded shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, a lake whose name, I'd like to mention, is almost impossible to spell.
Steve thought it might be fun to make a day of it by renting kayaks and paddling around and generally frolicking in the water before the show. Two grown men frolicking about like goons tends to raise suspicions about their mental competence, so I brought my kids along for cover.
The whole day went surprisingly well considering Steve was the only one among us that had ever been in a kayak before. We managed to remain in an upright position and we were not taken out by any of the millions of motorboats that go roaring across the lake every few seconds. We even commandeered a tiny island and used it as a private swimming spot.
After a quick lunch at a nearby park, we raced to our gig and arrived only a half hour later than we had planned on. My extremely poor choice of clothing (a t-shirt with the comical, but incredibly inappropriate "Life Is Crap" logo) lead to my having to wrap a towel around myself and change clothes in the library parking lot. My fear was that a freak gust of wind would snatch my towel away and a I would be the cause of a certain amount of negative press for Steve and myself.
I changed without calamity and we did what was probably our best show of the summer. Sometimes, they just feel good. This show was relaxed and a lot of fun. I can't say we've had any bad shows, but some of them just seem to really go perfectly. After the show, they served ice cream to the kids outside which reminds me of something I need to add to the previous list:
3. To clear a room FAST, offer free ice cream somewhere else.
I'm going to try this at school visits when the crowds are milling about and another group is waiting to come in. I will announce, "Your teacher has ice cream waiting for you in your classroom." With any luck, I will be able to escape before the teachers can arm themselves.
On Thursday, we had our last show in Hooksett, which is much easier to spell than Winnepisaukee. My drive to Hooksett has the dubious distinction of being the drive where I have taken the most wrong turns. I do a LOT of driving. I drive all over the place to go to presentations and I'm generally pretty good with a map, but Hooksett go the best of me. What really bugs me is that I knew where the library was (sort of) I just tried some different directions and got profoundly mixed-up.
I eventually found my way there and we had a good show. There was a big crowd and the librarian was obviously familiar with my third rule of shows because there was free ice cream offered and Steve and I were able to pack up crowd-free. I actually do enjoy meeting and talking to people after the shows.
One of my favorite meetings occurred earlier this summer after a very crowded, hot show. After the crowd had thinned to nothing and we were almost done packing up, we heard footsteps tromping up the 3 flights of stairs that led to the room we were in. A young girl bounced through the doors and held up her tightly clutched hands.
"I brought something for you guys!" she announced.
In each hand she had 3 sweaty, crushed french fries. Steve looked at me and smiled. Steve is evil. He eagerly took the fries from her and ate them. Then he turned to me. "Those were good, Marty. Are you going to eat yours?"
In Steve's own words, I am somewhat "freaky about my food". The translation is that I try to eat organic food when possible, I prefer not to eat processed foods, and I would sooner gargle toenails than eat those 3 sweaty, mangled french fries.
I took the fries from the girl and thanked her politely. Then I pointed to my bongos at the far end of the room and asked her if she could possibly get them for me. She happily bopped across the room and I threw the fries out the window.
Which leads me to the final thing I learned this summer:
4. If a kid gives you a french fry and you throw it out the window, make sure the kid's dad isn't standing directly below the window.