ADDLED AT THE ADLER
After 12 long years of begging and pleading, checking the tour dates and always hoping - John Prine finally returned to the Davenport, IA Quad Cities. Although the weird weather and fresh-from-winter timing prevented us from planning a big shindig in Prine's honor... his fans were able to meet at various places and prepare for some Fair & Square Prine music.
In the week before, the excitement built, we were in Florida, basking in the sunshine and Gulf shores, checking out where Mr Prine celebrated his 60th birthday. "It was really special" says Prine "you really missed it" (insert a deep regrettable sigh here) While down in Florida a local newspaper columnist posted to the newspaper message board:
"Seeking One Prine Fan"
I was so excited to be able to peddle some Prine! With his new DVD "John Prine Live on Soundstage: 1980" and his new CD "Standard Songs For Average People" on the horizon, it was going to be fun to get the Quad Cities into the act. I made arrangements to talk to David Burke on the phone and it was just kind of fun being able to answer questions about John PRine. The Saturday morning of the Prine show, the article appeared in the Quad City Times and my husband stood at the foot of the bed, reading it to me:
"Internet shrine to Prine built by Q-C fan"
Okay, so I have my 15 minutes of fame and my mother will be thrilled - the best part about reading something with your name attached to in the newspaper is that it wasn't in an obituary. Enough about me...
It was an more-exciting-than-usual morning, Terry was putting the finishing touches on the spaghetti sauce he made for Crusher and I was trying to figure out what to wear... when the neighbors called (they were going to their first Prine show and their first concert in over 20 years tonight) She called to tell me that she was sitting in traffic and had been in a wreck. Just moments before her husband had a spring malfunction on his framer and was in need of some emergency care. After they both returned home, Terry and I took a look at his damage and couldn't stop the bleeding, so Terry spent the afternoon in the emergency room with Dennis, some bandaging and few vicoden later - everyone was ready to head downtown for some pre-Prine warm up.
Picked up our tickets at will call and as we were leaving Jason Wilber was just arriving for sound check, I think we caught him off guard as he seemed to be getting his bearings - so many venues, so little time but it looked like everything was going to go smoothly.
Fast forward to the show....
The Adler Theatre had just been renovated, they enlarged the stage which afforded more options for bringing in entertainment. It was a big deal to bring in such an honored musician as Prine. The DoodleBops had the stage the night before and we were ready for a little bopping with Prine tonight. (ewww, that was lame, wasn't it?)
After meeting up with the 14 folks from Davenport and the many from out of town, we went in and found our seats... Front row Center, no six foot person with a tall hat on in front of me this time. I was seated next to my daughter and son-in-law who were extremely excited to see this guy that I don't ever shut-the-hell-up about!
Maura O'Connel was already on stage and into her first song, wearing this beautiful black tatted/crocheted vest that was very odd And very cool to look at - her bright red hair and infectious smile - she just makes a statement standing on the stage. She began to introduce her accompaniest John Mock and told us how she had just gotten her American citizenship and then she opened up her mouth and sang. She is a powerhouse and gave us an amazing performance.
Her setlist -
1. I missed this one .....
2. To Be the One - By Paul Brady
3. Who's your partner - by Cheryl Wheeler
4. These Troubled Fields - by Nanci Griffith & Red West
5. I Love You in the Middle
6. Western Higway - by Gerry Obiern
7. Blessing - by Jonell Mosser
I was hoping that she would come back to do an encore, but it seems that this Iowa crowd was more than ready for Prine... the lights went up and everyone scattered, knowing that the bar was closing at 9pm - it seemed that it was really important to stock up for the next set. I stood and watched and talked with some more friends that I had never met yet. A group behind me said "Do you really talk to John Prine" - Tell him that if he is ever in Iowa again he can come stay at our cabins.... Deerwood Cabins - really, it's beautiful, please tell him"
It was great to see Lyla Bridges, Tim Leonard and wife, and Mike Maynes and family at this show, they all traveled some distance to share in the excitement of the night. Mike's son, was seeing his 9th show, and he is only 11 years old.
The Adler darkened, the crowd was stomping, clapping and shrieking out whistles when John Prine, Jason Wilber and Dave Jacques strolled onto the stage to begin their set with 1. Spanish Pipedream - John said It's been a long time since I've been back to Iowa and then 2. Picture Show followed by 3. Flag Decal.... and this Jason did a nifty little solo spot. On the last verse John looked out into the audience and asked "What'd he say?" and we all joined him for the chorus. Next up 4. 6 o'Clock News and 5. Far From Me - ooooh and Jason brought out a new big orange guitar....when it was done he leaned into the microphone "That's for you Crusher" - not sure everyone heard it, but we were smack dab in front of him and could hear it over the clapping and whistling. I could feel the glow radiating from Crusher's smile.
6. Grandpa Was A Carpenter
Then he introduced Dave Jacques and Jason Wilber and told the story of his broken necked guitar, and how it was in the guitar hospital and he was playing Steve Goodman's guitar and then he played 7. Souvenirs
Prine says "This next one is for a good buddy of ours that's having a tough time, he's having another operation soon and we all wish him well 8. Fish and Whistle - it was real sweet ... plus anyone who read that newspaper article that morning read about Crusher... as everyone applaused and yeah'd for him. I just know it had to choke him up... he's such a big Burly softie - that did Crusher a world of good... and he looked great, was wearing funny slip on shoes that he hated and his Crushfest JP embroidered autographed tee shirt. Hopefully this next operation will let him wear his boots...and keep him on the concert trail.
A couple of times during these first songs, John would walk over to Dave and then Jason and tell them something, and then step up to the microphone, sort of shake his head, furrow his brow, and step back over to Jason. Jason began picking at his big orange guitar in kind of a pregnant pausing way, all three musicians standing there, picking the music like they are waiting for the gun to go off, (this only took seconds - was fun to watch when they finally began playing 9. The Glory of True Love (later I would learn what really happened) You see, Cary Grant died in Davenport, IA at the Blackhawk hotel, right after he fell ill from his performance on that very stage. John wrote this song with Roger Cook, who sounds like Cary Grant, and he often mentions it when he introduces a song that he co-wrote with Cook. While not saying that Prine is superstitious, he didn't want to bring in any "bad mojo" in so he left out the introduction and it made Wilber's fingers have to think twice to start it off. Prine did pop two strings though, something I hadn't seen for a couple of years when it was certain he would break nearly all of his strings on "Lake Marie". This actually only took seconds, but it was one of those things that made you wonder "what in the hell's come over you, what in heaven's name have you done"
Am I blathering?
Prine invited Maura O'Connell back to the stage and to duet
10: Long Monday
11. Just Getting By
12. Angel From Montgomery
13. Jesus, The Missing Years (black man with a fishing rod)
14. Clay Pigeons - he dedicated this to me and I feel the blood rush to my face - this is a Blaze Foley song that John has made his own - and that he can remember the words to better than "Bad Boy" (add another quizzical grin here) Thanks John, and I hope you catch lots of big fish this week.
15. Please Don't Bury Me
16. Illegal Smile - lots of pregnant pauses and there was a roar through the Adler singing along - this time his sister in law was a "10 foot nun"
17. He Was In Heaven Before He Died - and the song seemed new again. My mouth dropped open, as I thought we were hearing something new, it had been so long since this one graced a stage, the semi-rowdy audience sat in near silence.
18. Sam Stone
19. Bear Creek - John's feet start getting real loose, he's bootscootin' and shaking his left leg like the Carter family was all there singing back up... yet another song he hasn't written but has made his own.
20. She Is My Everything
21. Ain't Hurtin' Nobody - ... he stressed "where the tall corn grows" (yeah, we all cheered, we're Iowans and proud of our corn)
22. Hello In There I watched Dave Jacques' and his beautiful tie ... he hides in plain site sometimes, strumming his bass, one knee sort of bending to time, he was off in some musical newlywed world wearing that permanent grin. What a talent he is. So sorry his bride wasn't able to make it - we missed you Lemesa! Maybe another show along the way...
23. Lake Marie - this was played a quite different, in a more mellow tragic sort of storytelling way. The "Shadoooooows" were different. John was enjoying his songs in a way that was pretty neat to witness... kind of new in a twisted sort of way.
And with that they bowed and waved and left the stage to a couple thousand screaming fans....only to be summoned back by hungry for more fans....
The Prine trio returned and were joined by Maura O'Connell and John Mock for
25. In Spite of Ourselves (Maura was hilarious, just out of eyesight of John and animating the lyrics as he sang them - she was born for the stage)
26. Paradise. Jason, Maura and John traded verses...
They took their bows, over and over and exited the stage - I do hope it won't be 12 more years before he returns.
Another fabulous Prine show under the belt!
After the show, when it was nearly cleared out, we wandered over to an area where a few people were sitting and discovered that some guy had punched a young woman for singing .... and that made our local papers the next day under "Man accused of punching woman at folk concert" and "Concertgoer arrested on assault charges" Everyone was pretty stunned, and she was holding a bag of ice to her face, refusing to be the center of attention and not saying anything against the guy that punched her. A real peaceloving kind of woman and she handled it with such style and grace, you couldn't help but wonder why.... especially at a John Prine concert! Anyway, other than the shiner on her cheek there was a bright spot in the event because she was able to go back and meet John after the show. The boys in the band were stunned and amazed at her swollen red cheek.
A gentleman stood with a large abstract portrait he did in great detail, I'm sorry I forgot your name, and if you are reading this, please contact me through the "email" link and I'll make it right. John signed the portait for him and it's really something to see when someone shows him something like this, Prine gets look on his face that can only be described as humbled surprise. It's really something.
John looked great and I forgot to ask him what he had for dinner - just curious at what local eatery catered to him and what he ordered. I asked him if he had his vodka, and he looked at me like "you said you were going to bring it" - and I did say it, but with my luck and the law, I left the Grey Goose in the White Westinghouse! Darnit. I promise... the next show I get to John, I won't let you down - we'll toast to Cary Grant.
They were in great spirits, signing autographs, explaining some of the things that happened during the concert and just standing around in this little room unwinding with a few of us. John was headed out to meet up with his brother and do some deep sea fishing. You should see his eyes dance when he talks about fishing - kind of like Christmas. We talked about how pretty Florida is and the trip we just returned from only days before. I showed him where we stayed and he knew the exact area well.
Lyla "luluwalls" brought along her bag of goodies and was able to share them with John. She traveled about 100 miles for the show and had printed out some "John Prine trapped in the elevator with lunatic women" photos. We all got a kick out of them. Thank you Lyla - mine's hanging up in my smaller than a cell office.
I told him how pretty I thought the new album "Standard Songs for Average People" was and he related to me a conversation he'd just had with Mac Wiseman... "Mac said that he played the album again today and that it was really good!"
Isn't that funny?
I think once they make the album, they are probably so sick of doing the songs together that they file them away and think of the next album. I guess to listen to your own album all the way through for no other reason than pleasure instead of work, and then really like it... is a testament. I agree, it is such a great album, other than beautiful it's downright comforting... I 've played it over and over and think that this one belongs in your CD player or Ipod or whatever you choose to listen to. It's just plain excellent and the songs, well, if you're looking for the perfect song for something important ... I think you will find it here!!
And that's about it - John's road manager was getting cranky from lack of sleep because of his chosen profession and wanted to get to bed... he was serious, then he flashed a smile and shrugged "It's rough, and I only work weekends" so the Adler security guy showed us the door and said "find your own way out" and he walked the other way. No, not really, but everyone was in that kind of off-the-wall mood down in that small, very cream of wheat with extra butter colored room.
Thank you John Prine... you still keep me busy, out of trouble and off the streets. Your family and cast of characters have been so nice and have made it easy in making sure the rest of the world knows about your songs. You are the ultimate and it's easy to turn any non fan into an instant fan. Please keep doing whatever John Prine wants to do and we'll keep supporting that talent that you are so amazed to have!
Thanks Crusher for making the trip and for bringing Eddy and the space monkeys... Anyone who has read this far, and was at the show, and happened to record it... Contact Crusher - there's nothing better he'd like to listen to before going into surgery on April 27th... (you can use the email link and I'll put you in touch with him)
and mostly, thanks Terry, I know I don't tell you that often enough, but you are the only person who will ever read me this far and still be able to finish my sentences. Love you honey