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to Perpetual Childishness
C70 stands on a
makeshift stage in the small gym of a rural elementary school in northern
Vermont. This is familiar territory for the singer-songwriter, and both
he and his songs are well known and loved. The audience for this early
evening concert is typical, ranging from pre-schoolers to their grandparents.
a beautiful song about his father, Gailmor pauses to ask for requests.
Twelve hands go up, but before he can call on one of them a second-grader
yells out, The one about the mudpie! Youll have to help me with this
says, putting down the guitar. Unaccompanied, he begins:
kids go for the G.I. Joe games. I never went for green
those a-sliding into snow games, cold and a little too clean
working out in a big old sandbox, getting my sculpture done
mightve made more money, but he never had this much fun,
a cue, the kids join in at full volume while Gailmor improvises a harmony:
can rock and roll around in
pie a la mode
covered by sundown. Im a day crawler.
feel incredibly fortunate to have carved out a living doing something
I love, Gailmor reveals during a recent interview. A lot of people are
under the misconception that performers have a glamorous, easy, stress-free
occupation. Thats rarely the reality. Ive had to accept that my musical
life comes without financial security, and frankly the worst part is the
uncertainty of whether Ill have enough work over the next year. Luckily,
its worked out so far.
settling in Vermont more than 20 years ago, he has been ever-present in
all four corners of his adopted state. In addition to maintaining a busy
concert schedule, he is very active in the schools, where he leads songwriting
workshops as a resident artist and produces a weekly radio show featuring
community kids. He has six albums to his credit, numerous awards, and
was selected as Vermonts representative to perform during the 25th Anniversary
Celebration at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
the competing demands for his time, Gailmor remains a one-man business.
A 12 by 16 foot outbuilding nestled in the woods adjacent to his home
serves as his office, production studio, warehouse and writing retreat.
He acts as his own booking agent, publicist, distributor, roadie and
manager. He also makes his own coffee.
many ways, Gailmor was destined to have a life intertwined with music,
though no one could have predicted it would take the turns it did. His
high school singing group toured the U.S. Virgin Islands, and despite
early academic probation, he sang his way through Penn, touring the United
States and South America with the Glee Club (president, 1969-70), the
12-man a cappella Penn Pipers and the Pennifore barbershop quartet.
the early 70s, he and his partner, Rob Carlson, were on track to be the
next big acoustic duo on the heels of Seals and Croft or Loggins and Messina.
Following the release of their first LP, Peaceable Kingdom, Polydor
Records sent them on the road.
hated it, Gailmor recalls. Singing together was great, but I despised
the management and big-company brass making decisions that we had to answer
to. The art meant nothing to them, only Will it sell? I knew I was abandoning
my chance at the golden ring, but I left for Europe, completely disenchanted
with America and the music business.
the next two years Gailmor picked grapes in France, washed dishes and
ironed sheets in Athens, harvested tomatoes on Crete, and waited tables
in London. His musical life was on hold.
mid-winter of 1977, he was ready to try a solo career, and moved to Vermont.
I began knocking on doors, playing lots of gigs for very little money
in order to get established. Before long, I was making a living on the
Vermont bar circuit, but it still didnt feel right. The crowds wanted
to hear covers of pop tunes, but I found if I couldnt relate to these
songs on a personal level, I couldnt perform them very well.
night when I was being particularly silly on stage, a woman asked me if
I would consider singing for kids. She set me up for a summer series of
library concerts and the kids loved it as much as I did. I discovered
bored with Barbies, I hate my tiny toys.
I just want to dig a hole and make a lot of noise
me with a hardhat and drive me to the site.
Once Im pulling levers, itll be alright
girl, I want to be a backhoe girl,
swinging, swaying and digging the world
do what moves me,
and so it sure behooves me to be a backhoe girl
concerts soon led to longer visits in schools for songwriting workshops.
Its amazing to work with a group and try to be the catalyst in this
creative process, he says. The students get a powerful feeling of ownership,
knowing the lyrics belong to them. I still get goosebumps watching the
classes perform their songs for the community and seeing the singers swell
his Just Kidding radio show provided a new outlet for the talent
he encouraged in all the students. Since 1979 hes been traveling with
his cassette recorder and inviting school kids to step up to the microphone
more I sing and work with children, the greater I see the need for kids
to really act their age. There is nothing sadder than the kid who hasnt
had a childhood. Weve got to squash this desire of kids to hurry up and
be grown-up, and the nasty habit some adults have, of facilitating it.
The shows theme song is my ode to perpetual childishness and immaturity!
Ill go for a stroll with my favorite troll
Take a ride
on the back of my dinosaur, Jack
a fine day to fly, I guess Ill be a jet plane
And if a
grown-up person asks me what Im doing, Ill explain
just being a kid
from Montpelier to Madrid
to be kidding. What a world were all in
know how well grow up, but what a way to begin.
career continues to straddle the generations. His performances at weddings,
festivals and retreats draw tears, laughter and energetic audience participation.
love it when 20- or 30-year olds come up to me and tell how they remember
me being in their school or their being on the show, Gailmor says. Its
bliss to know Ive made a positive impression. Making a difference while
were here is what its all about.
about Gailmors recordings, including Dirt (Dirt),Backhoe Girl,(Childish
Eyes), and Just Kidding, (Gonna Die With a Smile if It Kills
Me), is available at (www.jongailmor.com).
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