This series is presented by Gary Mandel. The venue is a guitar store by day, so the walls are filled with beautiful guitars, like at McCabe’s. They offer lessons there, too. The sound is the best of anywhere we’ve ever played. It’s perfect. It felt like we were in someone’s living room. Very natural. The system itself is excellent, and the sound man, Max Mayo is a young, enthusiastic easy-going guy. The lighting is really good, too. Not many of the places we play even have what you’d call “lighting.” I like theirs because from the stage you can only see the faces of the people in the first three rows, then it’s black. You could be playing a huge concert hall, so it’s good practice. I guess you’re getting the idea: This gig was a pure pleasure. The ticket price was $15 and it was a totally full house… maybe I should say “packed.” That would be about 60 people.
Shaun Cromwell (www.shauncromwell.com) opened the show and was his usual brilliant, charming self. I love seeing new people discover Shaun. They understand how special his playing is right away. I love “The Rise and Fall of it All.” I’ve probably heard him do that song 20 times, and I find something new in it each time. You can see a video of him doing it at the 2009 Tucson Folk Festival on his website – it’s the second one down under “videos” (the video is also linked to the song title above). Shaun Cromwell is the real deal.
After a short break, we got up. It was me, Gene and Lorie, Doug Knoll on drums, John O’Kennedy on mandolin and dobro, and John Cartwright on bass. We did songs from “ A Place in the Sun,” and songs from the new CDs we’re working on. Gary Mandel requested “Waffle Boy,” which I don’t always do anymore, and there was a man in the second row, crying. I love that! Actually, “Table Nine,” “All Coming Back to Me Now” (my carpool song), “Laraine,” “Diane” and “I Just See you,” all seemed to elicit tears from various audience members. I needed to break them up with lighter songs like “I Can Be Bad,” and “My Kisses.” Speaking of happy songs, we did a very new one called “Nothing Better than You,” which was pretty ragged but fun. I haven’t enjoyed doing a show on that level in a long time. Thank you, Gary Mandel for understanding how to set up a great situation for performers. Oh, and it helps to have a crowd that likes your work, comes to listen and is warm and appreciative. Thank you to them.