by Ramona LaBarre
On Friday, March 22, a close-knit group of friends gathered to celebrate Godfrey Daniels’ 37th anniversary in our annual Spring event, our members-only concert, with our special guest artist, Bill Miller. We began these members-only concerts a few years ago, to give back to our members, a small token of all they have given to Godfrey’s over our lifetime of financial support.
below: Ramona LaBarre and Cyndi Reichard Photo by Joe Ledva
We often are asked, “Do we have to be a member to attend your concerts?” The answer is No (with the exception of our annual event) – Godfrey’s is not a private club. Godfrey’s is open to the public and welcomes audience members of all ages and musical interests, every time the doors are open. Our supporting membership program was started in the very early 1980s, in order to support our 501 (c) (3) non-profit status. We’re supported by membership in the same way public television and public radio are. And membership has its privileges.
Two years ago for our milestone 35th anniversary, our own John Gorka joined us in the celebration. We held a silent raffle, kicked off our annual Martin Guitar raffle, unveiled an anniversary hand-thrown collectible mug by Sommerville Pottery, and our annual celebration was for the first time ever, held off-premises, at Trinity Episcopal Church on Market Street, one mile from Godfrey’s. The venue is a perfect fit – Mother Laura and her husband Dave Howell, along with Trinity’s social worker Marcie Lightwood, are long-time friends of Godfrey’s; and the congregation at the church and our own audience at Godfrey’s overlap in great numbers.
Our founder Dave Fry is our honorable Master of Ceremonies each spring. Dave is fond of reminding us all of the magic that happens in the room at Godfrey’s, between the artist and audience. While our annual Spring event has found a warm home at the church, the magic exists there as well, where the gathering consists of 100% of our supporting members. The community and joy are palpable. People know one another, not only from their visits to Godfrey’s, but from all over our arts-rich community. Notable community members such as Beall Fowler, Jodi Duckett & Wally Trimble, the music-loving Finelli Clan, Bill Stanford, and Loly Reynolds, to name just a few, were present this year.
top left: Wally Trimble and Jodi Duckett chat with Dave Fry; top right: Jack Murray, Pat Finelli, Wanda Finelli, Terry Mutchler; bottom left: several items in the silent raffle; Rosalie Fry and Loly Reynolds (photos by Dina Hall)
Dave Fry’s opening set was full of humor, seriousness, and gratitude, honoring our members and uniting every one in the room. He is our consummate entertainer, well-known, successful in his music career, and well-loved in our community. Following Dave, Bill’s show was reverent, as appropriate to the room. He has a long-standing history in Bethlehem, not only in concert appearances at Godfrey’s and other venues, but also back to his ancestry, some of whom are buried in Nisky Hill Cemetery.
Bill mixed his Native-American based original songs and his powerful vocals with his haunting flute music, and did some covers that still resonate with his philosophy. And his storytelling was a large part of his show, along with many compliments about feeling remarkable kinship with Godfrey’s and the Lehigh Valley in general. Bill also reflected on his first visit to Godfrey’s, when he opened for John Hartford for $60, eventually going out on tour with John, becoming close friends with him and the many friends of John on the folk circuit. Bill closed out his set with an invitation to Dave Fry to join him ‘for some rock’n’roll’ – and they covered J.J. Cale’s ‘Call Me the Breeze’ with much visible delight and powerful guitar licks. We know that was an honor for Dave, as it was for all of his friends there in the room.
The celebration could not have been better; and as is often the case with Godfrey Daniels shows, they really do just keep getting better as the years roll on by.