So Folklife was definitely the better half of the long weekend wrapping into Tuesday. I already posted about Folklife, which was awesome. The gig in Renton was… fine, really; technically okay, as far as I could tell; my playing was decent, if not really inspired. I couldn’t tell how I sounded because the monitor system didn’t work. I kept the audience around well enough, which is apparently one of their yardsticks; the music manager told me a lot of the musicians they bring in finish up playing to empty seating!

Frankly, I find that terrifying and was glad not to share that fate. It happens for a reason more or less built in to the venue: if you’re playing there, you’re also closing a farmer’s market. The organisers in fact announced market closing right before my last song, and about a third of the audience left then, even though I had one more song on my setlist.

I wasn’t able to get anyone to run a merch table for me (because Renton, because 5:30 start time), which meant I didn’t even get a chance to try to sell CDs. Amusingly, while I didn’t put out a tip jar, a couple of people found where I’d left it (behind the stage, on a table, under a tent) and put money in anyway. That’s determination, and I salute them for it!

But the big thing I learned was that a setlist that really gets people engaged and interested at Folklife isn’t necessarily going to carry over to other venues. I mean, sure, obviously; I knew that; but I was surprised at the degree. Even “Stay Away”/”Shout at the Desert” didn’t really engage the crowd, and that’s never happened before. Since I didn’t know the venue beforehand, I just tried to put together a set that sounded really strong to me, and tested it against a real audience beforehand, so I thought I was on good footing. I went in optimistic.

But down in Renton, turns out that didn’t mean anything. Much of the crowd was older (a lot of 60-somethings) and interested mostly in music of the 1950s. I can appreciate that – I know and often like that music – but it’s not what I do. I tried really hard to reach out and engage them, and honestly, without a lot of success. But I soldiered on.

Fortunately, there were also a few families with children, and their kids bounced up and down and danced in front of me the entire time, which always helps. Then they stage-rushed me demanding stickers afterwards, which I am always glad to hand out, and that was just fun. ^_^ I got a real case of giggles seeing one of the moms a few minutes later walking out with a big SKETCHY CHARACTERS sticker stuck to her sweater. I’ll need to make more!

NEXT SHOW: Well, actually, I’m thinking I’m gonna do the Soul Food Books Open Mic on Saturday, in Redmond. I’ll premiere new songs, like I always do; come down if you want to hear ’em! But my next official show is Everett Market for 4th of July, Everett Marina, Washington. I’ll be loading up with traditionals for that one, I think. We’ll see.