When bad shows happen to good artists

Every show seems like a good idea in February. It’s cold and ugly outside. The sun goes down at 4:30 PM. You’re trying to wade through the piles of applications stacked on your desk, each one holding the promise of customers who love your work and will throw money at you (HA!). Sitting in a field in August listening to music and selling my art, sure, sign me up! Thus began my adventures at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

The reality of me being at this show went more like this. The woman that runs the craft area saw me at another show, gave me her card and said “you should do my show”. “Well”, I say, “I’ve applied to your show but you never let me in.” “Try again”, she says, “and this time use my name”. OK. So I do, and I name-drop and I get in. Great, because August shows are tough and a music festival brings with it a built-in happiness quotient. People wait all year to camp, drum, sing and dance with their friends, this is going to rock! (pun not intended because it’s a Folk Festival and, well, you know life in the slow lane, tie dye and all).

So I drive down yesterday and got a little frustrated with MapQuest for not knowing the intricacies of the Schwenksville, PA back roads. When I got here I remembered why I don’t do Music Festivals anymore. I don’t do shows at Ski Areas anymore either, but I broke that rule this year too. February clearly was a difficult month. Anyway, I’ll break down the salient points of why this was a rule in the first place…

  • Volunteers that look at you like it’s the first time they’ve ever heard THAT question
  • Dusty field
  • Port-o-Potties that bake in the sun
  • Hours: 11AM-11PM, Sun. till 9:30PM
  • “Camping” in your car
  • Showers that cost $5
  • Freaky guys in tie dye with bells on their shoes that look at your work and say “well, it’s not MY style, but…”
  • Sound checks

You get the idea. The woman who runs the craft area came by too. She said “I gave you this booth (a corner) because I thought you would hang stuff on this side so people can see it when they walk into the area, now all they see is a white side”. “But I’m not set up for a corner” I say “and you can’t just change this configuration around. You should have told me about this spot beforehand”. “But, you can just pull this wall outward”, she says. “No, that’s not going to happen” I say. “How about you hang some of these paintings on the outside?”, says the craft minion who is with her. “No, that’s not going to happen either” I say. Thanks for giving me your card, lady.

So here I sit till 11PM, never more thankful that someone has set up a wireless network that I can jump on to. Here. In a field. In Schwenksville, PA. Another artist came by awhile ago…he’s been doing this show for 10 years, but “only with the stuff I hate to make because that is all they will buy” and said “what are you doing here, you don’t belong here, they won’t understand you!” Thanks buddy, story of my life. Call me in February and tell me to re-read this post, will ya?


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