The title of this blog doesn’t relate to my opening comments here nor to my friend Rex… but read down, it’ll make sense, honest:)
Wow, O. Cup in Beloit was a full-on blast, packed and a lot of old friends as well as some new ones came out on the night. Rex played like the cookin’ guitar-slinger he is, enjoyed jammin’ together at the end. Samantha played wonderful songs, the 40th anniversary up there went fabulous, thanks to Dave, Diana, Kathy and staff!
I’m looking very forward to Watershed Cafe in Frankfort, IL this Saturday… kind friends and always enjoy being with ’em. And hopefully I can make time this week to get a surprise or two ready for my solo blues set there. Details on venue, etc. can be found at http://www.grrrrecords.com in the Shows section.
So on to my title and thoughts:
When interviewed, on occasion I’m asked what my favorite type or sort of venue/concert/gig is, or about memorable ones.
I tend to focus on a few that have been very, sweet to me for several reasons.
Back in the early days of REZ (Resurrection Band) there were a number of amazing gigs that, not due to my own sense of whether I or we played great or such, but due to the people and the conversations after were really a gift. That’s how I view them, personally.
After doing concerts from the time I was 13 years old until now in my 61st year I can tell you it’s always the people: the audience, the local church congregation, the group of peeps and their response and/or one-on-one chats, prayers and in some cases resulting in years of amazing relationships. This is what makes this or that concert Majorly Special 🙂
One slant to all this is that I have always loved little shows in small towns and out-of-the-way places, specifically because they are so appreciative of folks who bring music and caring messages to them. The big cities and major festivals have been very good to us, quite fruitful and plain fun most of the time, but they don’t inspire me as much to be quite frank about it.
Doing sets in front of 6 to 80 inmates in a prison has blessed me deeply. A little town that I don’t even remember the name of down in south-central Illinois years ago comes to mind. I recall a 100 year-old storefront and one bare light bulb there, using a tiny amp and maybe 20 people showing up that night. It was amazing.
I fondly recall a tiny coffeehouse up near Evanston (extreme north side of Chicago) in what was literally a 2 car garage with like, 8 people in it. You really couldn’t have fit more people inside due to the size, couches and such. In fact I seem to recall sitting in a couch while playing that night. We sure didn’t need mics or a p.a.!
I remember a very small outdoor festival in northern Wisconsin that was special due to the people, a couple other bands and the kindness of our hosts.
I recall a small college auditorium packed like sardines, maybe 250 or so people where REZ Band played. From the stage you could almost make out the expression of people’s eyes in the last row, and if I had shaken my head forward my sweat would have near-baptized the guys in the 1st row as we were very close to the front of the little stage. The response was so encouraging!
Cook County Jail concerts (both REZ and myself solo blues) back in the day… on and on it goes.
My personal joy comes from the experience with people there, not size of crowd or number of press or whatever. We played a Greenbelt Festival in England where there were perhaps 35,000 at mainstage one of the several years we played sets there. That was cool, but better yet a conversation I had with a group of 7 or 8 guys including a drunken biker among them, in the dark walking back to our ride.
Certainly Cornerstone Festival sets, outdoor street and park shows in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, Beloit and on and on… so many amazing situations where you (I) didn’t have to think about anything but doing best as I could and interacting with common folks afterwards which nearly always left me with a sense of “THIS is where I needed to be today. This was right and good and someone got something they needed.” Getting to be part of that is always a matter of love and grace. Recognizing it whether on a flatbed trailer in a redneck parking lot in Mississippi (yep…), blues festival in Basel or Ottawa or simply a block party on Chicago’s south side has always been a gift I don’t take for granted.
God shows up no matter where we are. The challenge is for us to show up mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is my heart.