Friday June 21st was the 2013 Summer Solstice–the longest day of the year. To celebrate the occasion this year, I decided to join the Words and Music group gathering at the Fallen Flagpole in Fort Tyron Park (near the cloisters museum in NYC).
The flagpole is at one of the highest points in the city, enclosed by a tall stone wall, surrounded by tall trees, that still lets you view the Pallisades on the west, the Hudson River on the North, and uptown Manhattan on the east, The setting was amazing. As you sat there listening to various poets reading from their works, you could hear birdsong and trees rustling in the breeze, in addition to whatever music the musicians(guitars, bongos, trumpet, trombone, claves, etc.) provided for them. At one point we looked up to see the sun setting as a big orange ball in the West, as the Moon came up in the east–at the same time!
I had brought pre-recorded accompaniment with me to use for my two songs, but as I sat there listening to everyone else, I decided it would be counter to the spirit of the event. When my name was called, I got up and asked for some of the guitarists to accompany me, instead, and two immediately joined me at the microphones. We made it through the first song-note to self: always bring sheet music–, but for the second, I decided to go with a fun jazz number, “Alright,, OK, You win”. The crowd got into it from the beginning, and I suddenly realized that I had more than the two guitars playing with me, and then the audience members got up and started to swing dance! I have never before moved people to dance, and it was really, really cool. I can never thank Words and Music enough for that experience. They were so appreciative of my efforts, and I have to say it was a nice change; to have people tell me directly that they appreciated my song.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something. Earlier last week I ran into someone who had played for me in a club, and made room in her open mike for me to sing. They said, you’re really good, you know? and I said, “it’s nice to hear someone say it”. A lot of time, thought, and practice goes into singing–often you spend hours just deciding WHAT to sing. And unless you’re one of those lucky few being paid to perform, the praise is all the payment you’ll get. People assume you know they liked your performance, just because you didn’t boo them off the stage, but really, please take the time to run some kudos by them. You might be surprised at the reaction.
Again, THANK YOU to Words and Music at the Fallen Flagpole for the outpouring of love and appreciation, the dancing–and the photos–you sent my way.