American Thrift (Baton Rouge, LA) posted some photos of my show last month. I can’t wait to return to this awesome venue!!
I just got back from a trip to Baton Rouge, where I performed as part of a new concert series that features singer/songwriters in a more intimate and engaging environment. This is an amazing and new thing. I am not new to being a musician, nor am I new to Baton Rouge. I was born in Baton Rouge and have been playing live gigs there since I was in high school. At the time, I had to get creative about finding places to play. I played small restaurants, the occasional coffee shop, and even a sorority function. Unlike the other cities I’ve played, Baton Rouge has never really embraced singer/songwriters as a form of entertainment worth spreading.
2 years ago I booked a show at Chelsea’s, which is primarily a rock venue in Baton Rouge. I love Chelsea’s. I’ve been there to rock out to some great music, enjoy the rowdy atmosphere of a primarily college crowd, visit and mingle while music filled the air and broke the ice, and everyone dances and drinks well into the night. I was incredibly intimidated by that image when I booked my show there 2 years ago, because I was not going to be playing with a band. With a band, I can pretty easily be filed into the “Pop/Rock” category, but alone, I am a singer/songwriter. I am a singer/songwriter that leans more towards Ben Folds than I do Norah Jones, but the bottom line was that I wasn’t going to have bass, drums, and guitars filling the air around my voice and creating an environment that Chelsea’s is accustomed to.
I invited my friends Peter Simon and Luke Ash to play with me that night. They are both singer/songwriters as well. I thought it would be fun to introduce Baton Rouge to a songwriter style of show. We were going to commit to our folkiness and try and get everyone else on board too. I remember both Peter and Luke seeming a little apprehensive, probably for the same reasons I was. We didn’t want to be up on stage struggling to keep the attention of our audience. However, something amazing happened that night. When we gave that crowd something to listen to, they stopped and they listened.
Before the end of the first song, we had a crowd of people sitting indian style on the floor of a rock club! The three of us took turns sharing songs and stories with our audience. We even played on each others songs, impromptu harmonies and instrument parts naturally weaving entrances into unrehearsed material. Local musical talent Ben Herrington even joined us (unplanned) on stage, with his trombone and accordion. What was so natural for us, the language of music, seemed like a magic trick for our audience. No one talked during the show. People just watched, listened, enjoyed. It was one of my favorite shows I have ever done.
225 Magazine writer Jeff Roedel called me a couple of months ago and asked if I’d like to perform at a new venue in Baton Rouge that features songwriters. The venue was The Haven Gallery/Listening Room and the concert series was named American Thrift. I jumped at the opportunity, and was excited to hear that there was an effort being put into venues featuring Baton Rouge songwriters! So this past week, I flew to Baton Rouge for the show. I asked Peter Simon to play a set, and also asked Ben Herrington to play on some of my songs. We put on a great show. We filled the room, and finally, it was a room made just for us. It was just for stories and songs with an audience whose expectations were to feel something.
Peter and I were visiting during the preparation of our show, and he mentioned how our Chelsea’s show was somewhat of the birth of the singer/songwriter circle starting in Baton Rouge. I don’t know if you can point to a single event as the beginning of anything, but it is a wonderful feeling to think that I might have played a role in expanding the art scene in the city of my birth.
I’m so happy, Baton Rouge. Thanks for giving me a place to play, and filling it with new fans. I had a wonderful time playing the American Thrif show at the Haven Gallery/Listening Room and I honestly can’t wait to make my return.