The VA Harmonicafest was a very interesting place to be. A few observations about the participants and the scene:
1) The average age of attendees was probably north of 60. A lot of the older attendees came with their spouses, and in many cases the spouses play. It seems like harmonica is a couples kind of thing if you’re older.
2) Considering how old the average attendee was, they were pretty tolerant of music that was not exactly the popular stuff of their youth. The Friday night show was all rock and blues, and the somewhat elderly audience sat attentively through the whole thing and clapped at all the right times. (Of course, someone who was thirty in 1967, when Hendrix was breaking out, is now 74. So the members of this audience may well have a higher tolerance for unusual stuff than audiences of advanced years in previous eras.)
3) There were some very good players in attendance. I attended seminars by Adam Gussow, Todd Parrot, and Dennis Gruenling, and I learned something at every one of them. Dennis mentioned that practice time should include time dedicated to listening, a cool idea.
My performance on Friday night was a tough one for me. I tried a few big things for the first time: running multiple RPs together, using the looper, singing–and there was a lot to keep in mind, which made it hard to relax. The gear started doing weird things from the third tune on, and I was jumpy about that. (I’ve now simplified the signal routing on my mixer to avoid the feedback that troubled me at this show.) I’m glad I recorded the show, because it looked and sounded a lot better on the video than I thought at the time. I know plenty of people in the audience liked it.
Speaking of which, I’ve got videos of two pieces, Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”, and my solo arangement of “Billy the Kid”, ready to go. I’ll upload them both to YouTube in a day or so. Stay tuned.