I was honored to be asked to perform for my good friends in LEPOCO for their 50 Anniversary Concert. I opened for Anne Hills and the Steve Brosky Trio at the IceHouse. It turned out to be a good crowd of intelligent people and I prepared a short set. I really didn’t want the night to go on too long, and I wanted to get out of the way for Anne’s set – the really good stuff.
I worked up a five song set that went well, with the usual microscopic flubs that still color my reaction to my live sets. I started with Don’t Call Me Early and followed with False From True. Both went well and it’s nice that False From True is honed into a nice performance piece. I followed with Lessons from Pete and the only mistake was mispronouncing “bond” and saying “blonde”. No way out of that one. I’m thinking that’s pretty funny and Pete would love it.
I then did Rocket Launcher on the big stage (after several GD renditions) for the first time. It was a risk for me, but this was the audience to try it out on. I think the introduction was really good, talking about Reagan, the 80’s, Bruce Cockburn, self-radicalization. I explained how Bruce put me on the ground in these conflicts, despite my pacifist leanings. I nailed the words (my big worry), and most of the chords (there’s the pressure of the big stage again). I really wish I had nailed the final descending chord change but so it goes. I was able to amp up the anger theatrically and it really worked on that level and seemed to be what people reacted to. I had several nice comments from folks I trust (Anne, for one) along with other Cockburn fans. All in all, it was a great vehicle.
I quickly followed with, as I had stumbled on earlier in the afternoon, The Strangest Dream, a beautiful and relatively familiar peace tune. I did it well, and with noticeable restraint, volume and attitude and it fit perfectly as a final song, reflecting nicely with the previous emotional song. Again, I got some fine comments on how that worked.
The applause was sustained and appreciated deeply. But, it was important to move the evening along and I knew that Anne would deliver in spades.
I introduced my friend Anne Hills (and I am so proud to call her a friend) by mentioning how I didn’t know which I liked better, her voice or her smile, but opted for her very nice guitar.
She did a great set, and I found myself off to the side smiling at the beauty of her music. She had transferred her smile to me. She made my evening.
Steve Brosky followed the intermission with a long set, professional, but too long for a Thursday night. Still some tension between us still, but not for tonight’s discussion. He does it well, with some talented folks supporting him – Jimmy on guitar and Suavek on bass.
We planned a finale that morphed into an a capella peace song by Anne, a very subtle way to bring folks back from Steve’s big ending. And then I led ‘Down By the Riverside’ with the whole group, the audience up and singing and clapping. The next to last verse, of course, was sung by the audience with the band out (this is getting to be so obvious), and the band kicking in for the final chorus. Bang.
I came away feeling good about this one, especially in front of so many fine supporters for so many years. LEPOCO has been on the front line for my cultural concerns, while I have been working on my community artistic efforts, and we are moving in parallel lines, I believe. It was great to be able to intersect tonight.