solo acoustic at steel city coffeehouse, phoenixville PA

fern brodkin asked me, just before we started, when and where my last solo acoustic show was – it was in medway, mass., and it was before robert died, last summer.

therefore, it really has been almost a year since my last one. i was excited for it, though. jayda and i had gone over a few songs and she was going to be singing with me, and i got a text from tommy on the way to the show asking if i wanted any percussion support, and (of course) i told him to bring it on.

so, i guess that in a strictly academic sense, it wasn’t a solo show at was a “tommys” show. 🙂

it was a double bill with an old, old friend of mine – ray naylor, who i’ve known since the early, early days of the grape street open mike, back during the nik everett administration. ray and i had gotten the same email from fern, asking if we were available to do the show, and we both gave it the nod…so there we were.

jayda has been coming with me to steel city since she was little, and i asked her if she wanted to do a couple of songs with me – we picked the acoustic, american-idolized version of love is a battlefield, a paramore song called decode, the carole king/gerry goffin classic save the last dance for me, and the across the universe version of i wanna hold your hand…i love hearing her sing that song. when she sings it, you can hear the smile in her voice and you automatically feel better, no matter what your circumstances might be. she gave save the last dance an amy winehouse twist, and blew newspapers back on the counter with the other two…and this was 24 hours after a final run-through that she barely got through because of her allergies, which showed up right on time this year. truth be told, mine had set in pretty solidly, but it was just the typical itchy eyes and runny nose stuff, and hadn’t really impacted my voice the way hers had.

on the way to the gig, i got a text message from tommy geddes, saying that he was coming out, and asked if he should bring anything. “bring it!”, says me.

so what was going to be a low key, solo acoustic thing turned into The Tommies with special guest Jayda Hampton…and then dan may walks in. and i had brought my dobro, the one tuned to E, because i was thinking about doing it ain’t you myself as part of the show…but when dan walked in, that cemented the song’s spot in the setlist.

the only things i really knew i was going to do for this show were it ain’t you, i was going to play robert hazard’s i still believe in you on mandolin, i was going to do larry burnett‘s only time will tell, and i was going to do dan fogelberg‘s forefathers for jayda and her mother and grandmother, who were both there for the show. other than that, i had no concrete plans whatsoever.

when dean sciarra came in, though, that automatically put a child’s claim to fame on the list, being the huge poco fan that he is. also, nik had requested savannah rain via twitter earlier in the day, even though he wasn’t able to make it…but i couldn’t not play it for him. in fact, i opened up with it.

the single biggest difference for me, in doing these kinds of gigs and doing covers in the corner of a restaurant for a couple of hours for walkaround cash is the rappore with the audience. last night, i was able to look around the room and see a large majority of folks who’d come out to see me. the reason they were there was because i was. when you walk onstage knowing that, it’s hard to overstate the difference between that dynamic and a cover gig, or even an original gig when you’re opening for another artist in front of their audience. you’ve already won them over…they showed up. now you just have to give them something to sink their teeth into, and that’s strong motivation to go the extra mile and put on a show, as opposed to standing there singing and strumming.

today, the day after, i made a point of either calling or emailing a bunch of the folks who came out, and jayda was – without a doubt – the hit of the show. they all knew what i was capable of, but jayda was something of a revelation…and it was nice to hear.

because (to channel eddie vedders’ citizen dick character from singles)….”a compliment for her is a compliment for me.”

One thought on “solo acoustic at steel city coffeehouse, phoenixville PA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s