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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Sweet Story in River City

So, Sunday was Heritage Day in River City (aka Easton, PA). Heritage Day celebrates the public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776 in Easton's Center Square.

My Ginseng Roots Band played the closing set for the crowd in Center Square. We play New Orleans jazz & blues and Tin Pan Alley tunes from the 1920s & 1930s, all with a novelty twist. Some of America's top trad jazz musicians circulate in and out of the line up, and on Sunday we were lucky to have the great Randy Reinhart with us on cornet.

Anyway, it was hot. It was boiling hot. I brought a cooler with eight or ten water bottles with those plastic frozen blocks that sit on the bottom and keep things cool.

So, about halfway through the show, I needed another bottle of water. When I front the band, as anyone will tell you has heard us play live, I leave it all on the stage. I'm often drenched in sweat when coming off stage.

All of which means I was dehydrated on Sunday when the cooler turned up empty. Not sure what happened or who helped themselves -- maybe the act that was on before us? Doesn't matter.

I had a small amount of hot water warmed by the day, left in a bottle. I drank that and finished the show, and I was totally out of it and still no water.

So, the roadie and I loaded up the van. I paid off all the band members, counted the money from CD sales (great that day!), and then went off to find something to drink and to get the paycheck for the gig.

I was staggering from heat and dehydration. Finally, I got a bottle of cold zero water which helped. I staggered, more or less, down to the river and found the guy with the checks.

Then I ran into my wife and daughter. We ducked into a Thai place where a small bowl of silver noodle soup helped revive me. The girls were off to some mall before closing time.

I stopped at a cash machine and deposited the check. Then I arrived back at the van to discover that I'd left the back hatch wide open. All the equipment had been exposed to passersby for more than an hour. My silver ukulele sat right at the edge of the opening.

Guess what? Everything was still there. Not a thing was missing. Easton often gets a bad rap as a rough, tough town. Some of that might be because of Larry "The Easton Assassin" Holmes -- still the city's greatest booster -- and some of it due to the economic tough times in the Rust Bust Belt.

Whatever the case may be, Easton's a great town and deserves a much better reputation than it has. I lived there through much of the 1990s. It was a safe, pleasant place then and it's even better now.

During the gig, at one point, I called out to the crowd, "We love Easton."

And a young black guy standing near the band shell shouted back, "And Easton loves you."

I guess they do. Thank you, Easton, PA!

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