I was a participant in a great, galloping concert last night in Awendah, South Carolina, just outside of Charleston. It was a benefit concert for Sewee Center. When we played at the Ryman Auditorium in 2007, Eddie White approached me about coming down for the show and playing some songs. So that's exactly what I did.
Mark Bryan, my comrade from the Blowfish, has another band that he co-fronts call the Occasional Milkshake. It's a raucous trio featuring my buddy from the backline Gary Greene on trap drums and the estimable Hank Futch from the Blue Dogs on upright bass. They have been the host band for this show for three years running, providing backing to all comers. They are formidable.
Tonight they're pressed into the services of a number of singers, Southern vets with family ties here, mostly through some involvement with Mark.
Doug Jones, from Cravin Melon, whose new album Doug Jones Everybody Doug Jones features the Milkshake throughout, and Mark produced it.
Danielle Howle, whose album Thank You, Mark was produced by M. Bryan and whose episodic road entourage sometimes features me and Gary too.
Mac Leaphart, whose band Five Way Friday has also recorded with Mark producing for an album called Wrecked.
And me, mostly on slide guitar (!) but a couple of my songs with everybody. Mark hasn't produced me (yet) but we play enough music together on a regular basis that I get a bye on that requirement.
Everybody played on everybody else's songs, except when they wanted to get off the stage for a while. There were two sets. Many songs were played including, coincidentally, "Ooh La La". Danielle and Doug sounded great together. Danielle and Mac sounded great together. They all ganged up and made a fine blend. We played songs by Old Crow Medicine Show and the Drifters ("Saturday Night at the Movies", a beach music staple from 1964) . Hank's dad got up and sang a duck hunter's song. "Sweet Tea" was a big harmony treat, presaging the Cravin reunion shows at hand. Mark roared through Paul Sanchez's "Maggie Don't Two-Step" and his own "Glad to Be Alive". I sang "Amplifier" and a sweet sleepy version of "She Was the One" that was a pleasure to hear go down. I wasn't familiar with Mac and his music, but I dug getting to share a stage with him and his Telecaster and will get better acquainted with it before we meet again.
There was an informal sense of respect and satisfaction on the stage between a lot of talented folks, blustery cold and wet as it was. That was where a lot of the warmth in the tent was coming from, I bet. The audience were so hardy to bear through it all. I wore more layers of clothes that night and still caught a chill through the leaky seams in my Docs. (Tonight, in St. Louis, they were streaked and bleached looking.) I threw away my socks when I got to where we were staying. My family, and my wife especially, deserve special morale-boosting-in-time-of-inclement-weather citations for sticking it out to the end. The four year old danced with his delightful cousin; the baby was allegedly digging the slide guitar, although the elder Mr. Futch blew her circuitry briefly. And my wife's cousin, thus my cousin, played hostess to the Holsapples while her own in-laws were bunking in, just because she wanted to get to hang out with us. The in-laws actually were in attendance for a large part of the show. They liked a lot of it, and they got to eat some oysters, too.
Gary leaned in to Mark and said he had to start driving home soon, and I think there was one or two more songs and everyone was packing or leaving. There was a second set from the Whisperjets, Eddie's son's band that I couldn't stay for, much as I'd enjoyed their opening slot and talking with them before the show.
I called my mom from the CVS parking lot to see how Dad is, and when I hung up with her, I looked at the phone. It was hard to believe it was only quarter to nine, felt like midnight. That's what a good day of music will do for you.