The wheels on my red dolly cart clink and clank as they crunch over rock salt covered sidewalks, shaking the tower of music gear I have stacked upon it. This was my entire show. I was the band and everything I needed was right here with me. I pushed the musical mound up the hill to the automatic doors and punched the 'open' button. A warm breeze greets me and the smell of pine trees and apples create a fragrant hello.
The residents at Artis of Reading are welcoming and cheery and happy. I was scheduled to perform right after their morning exercise class. This community is for Memory Care and Assisted Living residents and everyone together settled into their chairs for the musical hour with Chris, The Monadnock Storyteller.
All the residents were gathered together and already for the show. The clink and clank of the wheels making a faint white trail from the foyer carpet to the community room floor and all the way to the front of the room.
All eyes are looking to see who it is to come and see them and everyone sees my red card and guitar cases and amplifier piled on my card and now being unloaded into the room. I used to think the show started at showtime. Now I know I was wrong. The show really starts when you drive into the parking lot and residents see you drive in. As soon as they see you it's on!
"I'll take my coat off and stay awhile." "Well, it's colder than the dickens out!" "Good to see you how are you doing." Or any number of greetings will sputter from my lips as I quickly begin to unload my gear for the show. Performing at senior communities is a treasure for me. The residents always want to know about who they have visiting them so I treat the show like a visit. I ask about where folks are from. I ask about specific cites where residents were born. I try and gather a few facts about people while I plug in, set up, tune up ect..then I use those bits and pieces during the show when I talk about where I'm from and why I am here with them this morning.
Before the show even starts I try and build some rappoire with them and get to know them. This practice has always worked to my advantage.