Played a new winery the other day. A mere half hour from my house, but in the exotic rural districts of Maryland. Funny how i tend to forget about places across the river – after all, that’s in another state!
But I braved the psychological distance to Big Cork, in Rohrersville, MD. Struck me as rather an out-of-the-way spot, but must not strike others as such since it was a well-attended location. Young couples, older couples, families with kids flying kites, folks with dogs on leads, all sprawled in the sunshine on black and white and wicker furniture grouped all around the winery. Everyone seemed to be having a pretty good time – I saw lines at the cash register and smiles on people’s faces.
Big Cork has made a smart move – they have cunning little kid’s toys right at the cash register – Cats Cradle, little drawing kits, small kites – to keep your little one engaged and so let you kick back at the winery for longer. And I think most folks did want to stay and enjoy themselves on this, one of the warmest days of the year so far. Big Cork is a convivial place to meet old and new friends, get outside a bit, kick back after the week’s work.
I was part of the scenery – there’s a big inflatable ball, kites, Julia the singer, and of course, wine to taste. I did my job – I connected with the crowd as best I could, I played a lot of old songs from the 70s having correctly judged my audience to be fans of that decade.
It was weird to be off to one side of the outdoor hustle and bustle, so I could only connect, eg get tips from, 1/3 of the crowd! One always wonders where to put one’s tip jar – over there by the door where everyone passes by, or by yourself where most people look for it? I’m never exactly sure about that, but I tend to keep it by me. But on a table a few feet off – people have a reluctance to come too close to the stage, i notice! So you place your tip jar, and just let it go. Let people respond as they will.
I do like Big Cork, and I hope they have me back again. You can never tell – you can go over well and still not be invited back if they have a pretty full stable of musicians already. You just do your best and remind them from time to time that you’re still around, and keep checking out new and old wineries. I was talking to Jed, the manager cum bus boy, telling him how folks were enjoying the day, and he said “Yep, this is a positive place!” And I agreed with him. You can’t say that about every winery one visits!