I’m just back from a week in the Midwest where we
had a great time and some real nice turnouts for the
shows. I’m told we actually set an attendance record
with my first appearance at the Depot in Chelsea,
Michigan last Wednesday night!
One of the shows was actually a house concert I’ve
played many times in Evansville, Indiana called
Concerts in the Cabin. I’m enclosing a YouTube link
of the evening’s impromptu encore, as I think it
kind of captures what I love about intimate and
spontaneous nature of these special shows. I had not
intended to perform “Swino, the Cow-Fighting Pig”,
but when the audience (spurred on by my mischievous
road-buddy and sometimes “merch-wench”, Tshirt
Cathy) begins chanting “Pig! Pig! Pig!...”, well,
there’s not a lot you can do!!! :
I’ll be doing a house concert in Lake Placid, NY
this coming Saturday, November 15. Then Sunday
afternoon the 16th, I’ll be returning to the
Acoustic Celebration series in Ridgefield,
Connecticut at 4PM. Please check my schedule at
for more info.
I had such a nice reaction to a recent facebook/twitter
post that I thought I’d copy it below for those of
you who do not follow me on social media.
Thanks so much for your continuing support of my
music! Hope to see you soon.
Like Arlo Guthrie said, if the world were all "peaced
out and loved up", it would be hard to make a
positive difference. But in a world like we got; a
world that SUCKS, you don't have to do very much at
all. For example...
I just had breakfast with Larry, or L as he likes to
be called. Larry is a 36 year-old black man who
lives on the streets of Oakland, California. He
approached me for spare change on my way into Burger
King this morning, about three blocks from my hotel.
(Yeah. I know BK's a corporate tax dodge, but I
couldn't see myself shelling out the $23 for the
Marriott's breakfast bar, and their breakfast
biscuit sandwich and coffee are actually pretty
L had a bright cheerful smile, but a slightly
worrisome tinge in his eyes that was brought out by
his worn yellow sweater. I told him I didn't usually
give out money on the street but that I'd be happy
to buy him something to eat. He eagerly accepted and
was overjoyed to find that BK offered burgers on
their breakfast menu. L was very deferential when I
asked him if he wanted to eat with me, or take his
meal to go. I don't mind either way, he said. I told
him I could use the company (after two days at a
folk music convention, anyone without a guitar or
banjo was a breath of fresh air)!, so after filling
a dozen small paper cups with ketchup and emptying
an equal number of sugar packets into his coffee, L
joined me at a bench seat by the window.
As we ate we had a fascinating conversation.
L told me that asking people for money was his
full-time job, and that there were simply no others
available to him. Although I had suspicions, I
didn’t presume to ask why this was. We were simply
two men getting to know each other, and I wanted to
respect personal boundaries.
I decided to concentrate on only the information
that was offered.
L told me that he meets all kinds of people
everyday. Nice ones. Angry ones. Scared ones. People
that yell at you. And, he smiled and said, the best
kind of all… people who reach into their wallets!
This last kind of person, L said, is becoming harder
to find, what with the economy and how hard
everybody seems to have it these days. But there are
always some folks out there who are willing to help
if they can.
You must have gotten be pretty good at reading
people, I said.
How do you mean?, he asked.
Well, I continued, if you spend all your time going
up to strangers, you must have a developed a sense
of who to approach. A way of telling which ones will
be more receptive than others. Who the nice ones
are... Who the nasty ones are… I bet you at this
point you can pick them out, huh?
L smiled and shook his head and said, John, you
can’t never tell anything by just looking at
someone. People will always surprise you. Some
people look real mean, but they brighten right up
and reach into their pockets for you. Others seem
nice but threaten to call a cop as soon as you go up
to them. In my business, you just NEVER know.
I asked L who the worst person he ever approached
for money was. He replied, How do you mean, worst? I
don’t know, I said, I just wondered if there was one
bad experience that jumped out in your memory.
Someone that over-reacted in a way that stood out
from all the others. He couldn't really come up with
anyone. He said, Nah, even if they get a little
worked up, once they know you’re gonna leave them
alone, they always settle down.
Then I asked if he had any GOOD stories. Like maybe
he once approached a rich man on the street who
handed him a thousand dollars right on the spot! L
almost snorted his sugar-charged coffee laughing at
this thought. Now wouldn’t THAT be something, he
said! A thousand dollars! Nah, John, no
millionaire’s come along so far…
What would you do with the money if it HAPPENED
someday, I asked. What, he replied– What would I do
if someone gave me a thousand bucks? He smiled and
his eyes looked somewhere off into the distance.
Man, I’d buy me some real nice clothes, he said. And
then I’d get some good food. A lot of good food.
Then his smile faded a little, and he said, Then I’d
try to figure out how not to let anyone get the rest
of my money.
You mean steal it?, I asked
Yeah, man, he said. That’s’ a lot of bread. That
would be a big worry having that much money to
protect. So the money would actually casue you NEW
problems?, I asked with a grin. He said, Yeah! You
got to be careful with a big pile of cash like that!
I’d have to figure that shit OUT!
OK, I continued, if there were no generous
millionaires, SO FAR, who IS the nicest person you
ever met on the street. He said, Oh, that’s easy,
John, It’s YOU. Me? I asked, I had only spent six
dollars on his breakfast; surely this couldn’t have
set any kind of philanthropic record in this man’s
L said, Yeah, man. In all these years out here,
you’re the first person who ever wanted to eat with