Every summer, I tell myself that I will have some free time to just relax. Then, the summer races by, and I wonder what happened. This summer, I’ve had more gigs than usual, and they’ve been a wide variety of events. I’ve played for libraries, cafes, a Renaissance Faire, private parties, for children and senior centers and will be playing at Beer Camp next week – a two-day festival at a local brewery. All these shows required a different type of set list, which had me working hard to learn everything. And, I couldn’t have asked for a better summer. I never mind working hard at something I love, and I really enjoy the challenge.
I’m also writing a lot lately. I currently write three blog posts a week, a Family Blog, a Music Together blog and this Deb Cavanaugh blog. In addition, I write songs. I spent last week at SummerSongs, a week-long music camp for songwriters, for their 20th anniversary. I first went in 2003. Still struggling with debilitating shyness, I had a difficult time fitting in but loved it and learned a lot. I even joined a song circle near me that met once a month and included some amazing songwriters including Penny Nichols, the woman who started SummerSongs. Unfortunately, due to family issues, I couldn’t return to camp until 2016 but jumped in with both feet that year and the next two. Now, I can’t fathom not returning every year. It recharges and inspires me. After SummerSongs, I come home for a few days and go to my favorite music festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
This year, for the first time, SummerSongs offered guitar classes, which I took instead of the usual songwriting classes. I decided it was time to improve my playing. I also took a vocal class first thing each morning. I’ve come home with a new practice routine and lots of things swirling around in my head. Although I didn’t do a lot of writing, I got exactly what I wanted out of the camp. I often don’t write much at camp anyway. It usually comes later, once I’m settled at home again and more relaxed. I’m hoping August will bring a spurt of creativity.
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival is celebrating its 30th year. This will be my 27th. I currently run the Activities 4 Kids tent with a crew of wonderful, fun volunteers. In the past, I struggled with that same debilitating shyness that kept me from a lot of the song circles and jams. I sought out friends and occasionally went to an organized song swap, but mostly wandered around feeling lonely and left out. A few years ago, I wandered up to the ridge and found myself at The Front Porch, one of the many organized places for late night music. Not all the late-night places are easy to break into, but they were so warm and welcoming there, it changed my entire festival experience. I was very sad to hear that Maggie, one of the people running it and the one who welcomed me with such loving open arms, died this past year. I’m sure the folks who have been going there will continue in the same spirit, but it won’t be the same, at least not this year. I will always be grateful for the boost I got that keeps me going despite any obstacles, especially when I bump up against my old demons.