The European Street Cafe on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida is a great little room. We had an almost full house of friendly, familiar faces mixed with folks we'd never seen before -- and a few surprises.
"Hi, are you Paul?"
"I'm Jane. We went to elementary and high school together. Remember?"
I hadn't seen Jane in 38 years... and here she is, living in Jacksonville, and come to hear me sing... how cool is that?!
So with bassist / vocalist / Ashley Gang band-mate Michelle Lowe on my right and flautist / percussionist / band-mate and life-mate Kay on my left we made our way through the show -- and had a total blast doing the old favorites and a few of the new songs I've recently written for the new recording.
The nerves vanished as the energy from the audience -- always palpable -- pulled us into the music and the stories and the (occasionally political) commentary. It all ended with a standing ovation after the first ever public performance of the song "1,000 Doors"
After my set, I wandered the room, visiting with the audience -- people who talked about being touched by one song or another -- about how they cried through "Empty House" (about the foreclosure crisis), or lived in the rapidly vanishing rural south in a small town that reminded them of "Crackertown" (a real Florida community), or laughed through "Duval Nights" as the lyrics made fun of our city and Florida politics.
A nice way to make a local solo performance "comeback". Can't express how much I appreciate the effort of all of those who came to hear -- especially during a University of Florida football game!
So next Saturday, Michelle, Kay and I will be performing at a tribute for the amazing and heroic Gamble Rogers, at Gamble Rogers State Park in Flagler Beach -- if you're close by, stop in for a little Florida music... The the following weekend we're at the Lake County Folk Festival in Eustis, Florida with the full Ashley Gang. More schedule information and some sound bites here.
Michelle, me, Kay