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WOW, I'll say it again, WOW. What else can I say, oh how about wow!
Emmy Lou walked onto the stage at 2010, (8:10 pm), there was polite applause, and she talked for a while. Then she started to introduce the other performers. John Prine was first and received thunderous applause. Bruce Cockburn the hometown boy was next good applause, then the sweet Mary Chapin Carpenter, good applause, then Steve Earle, good applause, and finally the meadowlark herself, Nancy Griffith. Emmy sang the first song and Bruce Cockburn backed her up on his guitar. Now let me tell you right now that boy can play licks like you may never have heard before, he backed everyone on his guitars all night except one Steve Earle song and one Mary Chapin-Carpenter song. After Emmy, Bruce did a solo, then Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Steve Earle and finally Nanci Griffith. Then John Prine started playing Angel From Montgomery, now up until this point there was good applause from the crowd after every song. Well John Prine wasn't six bars into the song and the applause started like wild! At this point it was more than obvious that JP was the MAN. As he played Bruce Cockburn played along and very nicely I might add. The song was ending and Emmy Lou decided to sing with John only she took over with the final line, Prine looked at her and she stopped and he finished the final few words, "A hard way to go". The house came down. Then Emmy sang a song then Bruce Cockburn sang and then the speaker spoke. It was educational and interesting the founder of V V A F, I forget his name right now it is 0240 in the am. So then Emmy tries to sell us all some beautiful scarves and it's intermission time after only eight songs!
They return to the stage and Prine picks up his guitar and says "NOW FOR MY SECOND SELECTION" and he plays "Big Old Goofy World" the house was singing along with him and all the other performers were just in awe of JP, honest they just stared at him and everyone sang along and it was so cool, Cockburn played along and was awesome but John Prine was the favorite of the crowd and the performers. They played on for a while and it came back to JP and he started playing Paradise! Steve Earle picked up his guitar as did Mary and Nancy, Bruce, Emmy and by the way J. T. Hooker was playing key boards and they had a jam session with "Paradise" oh man I wish all of you could have been there it was so cool my wife and I and everyone else just singing along with John.
They played a little more and Bruce Cockburn played very well and wowed us with a couple of great songs. Mary Chapin Carpenter was singing this one song alone, just her on guitar and that woman can play guitar, a very good thumb picker and JP was rockin in his chair. Steve Earle played a couple of songs as he spoke of the election, world poverty and how can it be that the richest nation on the earth has people starving to death? He was solid and played well. He cursed and said he was the designated loud guy! :) Nancy played Pete Seger's If I had a Hammer. She invited everyone to sing along with her and several people did, JP chimed in a few times as well,. and they exited the stage. The encore was a treat.
They all came back onto the stage, but JP was the first one and he had the farthest to go. They all look at him and he points to himself and Emmy says its time for another JP tune. Well he says there was a fella in Ottawa last night that said he'd pay $500.00 bucks if he would play this next song, he said he played it and he is still waiting for the money. Leonard was that you? :) John Prine broke into Illegal Smile and the house went wild. As John did in Buffalo, he stopped singing after the second verse and says now its your turn, the singing was unreal the whole place was singing their hearts out, they turned up the house lights and the balconies were all light up and John was looking at us all and waving and looking and nodding at us we sang our little hearts out and then he chimed in and the house lights dimmed but our spirits were all riding high! Steve Earle closed with a great song of his about being in prison, he didn't mention the name of it but the other! performers chimed in and the show was over. Now for the good stuff!
Ronna, my beautiful wife and mother of my children, waited down at the front of the stage with me. Dolly did you make it? We were looking for you. We went to the stage door and were told that no one without a pass was getting in. We sat by the stage again until a security guard came over and told us to leave, he was polite about it, but firm. I instantly thought of you Reeda and was about to clobber the guy but I held back and we left. :-) As we left the building we noticed about 20 people standing outside on the sidewalk by the busses. It was COLD and there they were singing, what else, but John Prine songs, no kidding there they were so we joined them. After a while Emmy Lou came out and quickly ran away and jumped into a limo van, as everyone said hi Emmy Lou she never even looked at us just threw one hand in the air and that was that. Next out comes Nancy and people start talking to her and she stops and starts talking back, Steve Earle comes out next and ! along with J.T. hooker all three are going to the same van. Now Nancy starts signing a few autographs and J. T. Hooker is talking to a couple of people. Steve Earle ignores everyone and jumps into the van limo, there was a guy standing beside me with several SE albums and cd covers. He had a pen and this guy was maybe 45 very clean cut and a nice guy. He started to approach SE as he came out and was pushed away as Steve Earle sprinted the 20 feet or so to the van. The guy was stunned! Nancy was then told to get in the van and they left. The 20 people on the sidewalk are all a little stunned about this. Then out walks John Prine, he stops right there on the side walk and starts shaking hands. My wife, Ronna, was right there about to shake his hand when this guy cuts right in front of her and hands John a paper and pen, John looks Ronna in the eye, hands the stuff to his body guard / handler and takes Ronna's hand as she says its nice to meet you he says it is very nice to meet! you. He was such a gentleman he took control of the situation and treated her like a million bucks. A minute or so later I went up to shake his hand and thank him for playing and I stuck out my right hand and as he took it I said, I met you in Buffalo and had to shake with my left hand because I was in a sling, now I get to shake your right hand, he looked up and his eyes met mine and he grinned and said "ya, I sure am glad to see you got out of that thing." Everyone stopped and looked at me and my smile must have light up the entire block. Here was John Prine at midnight, downtown Toronto where the definition of cold is found, talking to fans, shaking hands, and signing autographs. There was not another performer there with him, and he was smiling and happy to be there, or at least it seemed so. The body guard said John we have to get on the bus as quickly as possible and John Prine continued hanging with his fans. We hung around for a few minutes then decide! d to leave, it just couldn't get any better than it was. I remember getting to the corner and looking back, there was JP standing in the middle of his fans wearing a smile and nodding to people. What can I say about this man that we all don't already feel, what can I say about his actions this night when he isn't being paid to perform, as it is for charity? What kind of man acts like this? A true GENTLEMAN, that's who. John Prine is a class act from the get go. My wife could not believe that he was so awesome in person and that he was by far the "Special" performer and that he is so down to earth.
Over all the concert seemed to go way to quickly, John only got to play 4 songs, but that was better than no songs at all. The sound was awesome in the old Massey Hall. The audience ranged from eighty year old women and men all the way to a couple of teeny boppers. They all had come to see a show, a show that had JP in it.
Man it was so good to see him play on the same stage as all those other great talents. I think I will remember this for a long, long time, I know Ronna will.
FROM: Mark Schisler
Saw John last night in Toronto as part of the Landmine series of shows. Just amazing. John was in better form than he was when he played here in September. Great format for the show with John, Bruce Cockburn, Emmy Lou Harris, Nancy Griffith, Mary chapin Carpenter, trading songs. John did a few solo for the encore. "Angel" and Big old goofy world". Just a great show. Too bad there's so few. Thankful we had 2 of them up here. Don't miss it in the next few days.