Prine show diary:
#4403/12/2016 Nashville, TN
#4303/11/2016 Nashville, TN
#4211/01/2014 Milwaukee, WI
#4109/14/2013 Cedar Rapids, IA
#4012/18/2012 Nashville, TN
#3904/13/2012 Champaign, IL
#38 06/17/2011 Davenport, IA
#36 05/13/2010 Maywood, IL
#35 09/12/09 Kansas City, MO
#3402/27/09 St Louis, MO
#3302/09/08 Whitewater, WI
#3203/10/07 Davenport, IA
#3108/26/06 Des Moines, IA
#3005/10/06 Madison WI
#2905/08/06 Wausau WI
#2801/28/06 St Louis, MO
#2710/01/05 Nashville, TN
#26, 2504/14-16/05 Atlanta, GA & Birmingham, AL
#2410/06/04 Des Moines, IA
#2304/23/04 Des Moines, IA
#22, 2103/26-27/04 Madison & Milwaukee WI
#2009/05/03 Champaign, IL
#1904/19/03 Cedar Rapids, IA
#1804/18/03 Peoria, IL
#1709/13/02 Kalamazoo, MI
#1605/19/02 Green Bay, WI
#1505/18/02 Rockford, IL
#1409/28/01 Lincoln NE
#11, 12, 134/4--7/01 Oshkosh, Milwaukee & Madison WI
#1009/29/00 Ames IA
# 902/26/00 Maywood, IL
# 811/20/99 Chicago, IL
# 711/13/99 Nashville, TN
# 6, 5, 406/07-10/99 Crushfest Madison, LaCrosse & Milwaukee, WI
# 308/16/97 Wogstock Indianapolis, IN
# 203/22/97 Peoria, IL
# 11995 My Prine Story & start of the Prine Shrine
I WAS A BLIND SPOT
The Rolling Stones, the webmister and I all hit St Louis on Friday January 27th. I in my Prine sweatshirt and he in his Fair & Square cap settled into the hotel bar for a bottle and a tap. "Are you in town for the show? the bartender asked.
"Yes, but not the Stones.... and we pointed to our Fair & Square wear, "we're here to see John Prine tomorrow night"
"Oh" - she smiled knowingly.
I asked, "Do you know who he is?"
She smiled knowingly again, "Uh, no, what does he do?"
The webmister and I start rattling off a flurry of songs, "Angel From Montgomery, Sam Stone, Illegal Smile, Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore, I Just Want To Dance With You...." She perked up, like she recognized something.... "You know, George Strait won a Grammy and all sorts of stuff for "I Just Want To Dance With You" -Other artists that have his songs on their albums are and we started drivin into her brain with .. Bonnie Raitt, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins, Carly Simon..... she acted interested .... ahhhh, one Prine fan at a time. I told her to definitely check into and get an album, then promised that she would be an instant fan.
I sure can drag out a concert tale...
On to late Saturday afternoon "the sky is fat" and me without my hat... but I have my hood. We've met up with Crusher who is going to see his 80th Prine show from the front row... those Oh Boy - John Prine Net presale tickets have some real charm, when you find yourself so close to the stage.
The 1,625 seat Anheuser Bush Hall at the Touhill is cozy - like an old vaudeville venue, with all the bells and whistles for the modern Prine fan. A main floor and 3 tiered balconies and seats along the side. There just couldn't possibly be a bad seat. We settle in, knowing that the people around us, must have computers and must have ordered from the John Prine presales - and somehow we were all connected. And we were - Crusher was down the row chatting it up with folks and I finally met and conversed with Mike Maynes, a fellow Iowan and Matthew Rust - a fan from St Louis with Paradise KY ties. It was like running into lost family. The treat of a Prine concert has begun!
Maura O'Connell and John Mock strolled out to the stage and she just makes a presence - she certainly makes a statement and boy can she sing too... Crusher and Terry said "she sure does have a set of lungs on her" - and it's all true. Fiery curly redhead who I know from personal experience can tell her hair what to do on such a misty day. John Mock was her insturmentalist with a long list of hard earned accolades behind his name too. She introduced herself, not as an Irish singer, although she was from Ireland and could sing - she just percolated with personality, warmth, and humor - she had our attention from the moment she stepped on to the stage.
Maura O'Connel's set list was (and forgive me for mangling any title and please feel free to correct me:
- Summerlfly (Cheryl Wheeler) - she sang it with such heartfelt passion, who would have thought that it was someone else's song?
- The Blue Train (Jennifer Kimball and Tom Kimmel') she certainly can hold a note and make you feel the ache of the song, I am dug in as a fan now.
- Poor Man's House ( Patti Griffin) - Maura was so moving with the introduction to this song that it brought tears to my eyes and left me thinking as she put it "there's no shame in being poor"
- Love You In the Middle
- Western Highway (Gerry O'Beirne) - sung this with such emotion that it made the song, it seems that each and every song she touched, has touched her in some way, she makes you feel it.
- Blessing (Jonell Mosser) She introduced as an Irish tea-towel blessing: "May the wind be at your back and the road rise to meet you and your soul rest at last in the hollow of God's hand." Then she belted it out this song that I was sure may be a sleeper. She had such a style (standing O's all around - so glad I had the chance to see her live in concert - I felt lucky)
- Encore: Crazy Love (Van Morrison) - she called it an Irish folk song, and left us all with such an admiration.
Maura O'Connell is one of the few people I have seen open for John Prine where the crowd sat in silence and actually listened, they weren't fumbling around for seats, talking on cell phones, idly chattering or waiting for the support act to be over - we were all listening with quiet admiration. She was a delight, from her bubbling on stage presence, full of wit, thought and humor to her amazing strong-voiced emotion-filled singing.... such a talent. If you haven't heard of her, click her name above and go listen to some tracks... better yet, go see her live - that is were candy jar is!!
20 minute break.... we get to run off to the multitude of bathrooms, no waiting, this is the perfect venue! At the Oh Boy table I noticed that the Fair & Square tee shirts have the 2006 tour destinations on the back - that's an FYI in case you thought you owned everything by Prine.
Without introduction, the concert hall darkened while John Prine, Jason Wilber, Pat McLaughlin and Dave Jacques played out to the stage starting off with
1. Spanish Pipedream a hello, nice to be here,and then Prine turned and said something to to his back up and began
2. Flag Decal - which he called his "State of the Union Address". The Touhill bunch cheered from one song into the next
3. Far From Me
4. Storm Windows - "I named this album \Bruised Orange\ and I got a crates of oranges for gifts... so I named my next album "Storm Windows" because I needed storm windows... hmmm, that didn;t work out so well.... then I named an album Pink Cadillac..."
5. Souvenir "for Steve Goodman."
6. Grandpa Was A Carpenter - he spoke of truth in songwriting, and that after singing this at a family reuinion he asked how they liked the song and a couple of his aunts pulled him aside and told him that his grandpa smoked Kools and Grandma was from Berea...he tells it in such a way that you find yourself laughing into the next song.
7 Fish and Whistle was
Late John Garfield Blues was really great, still adding drama by hanging on to notes and pausing in perfect Prine proficiency.
9. Glory of True Love - "I wrote this on a Tuesday Morning in our studio in an old meat packing plant in Nashville - - it's where we butcher songs" This song itself is great, and with the full out no holds barred playing of Jason, Dave and Pat - it's a real foot stomping work of art
Crazy as a Loon - I've loved this one since I first heard it. John has such a way of making it sound sad or a little flippant by how fast he performs it. Slow beat: it's kind of haunting and melancholy - Faster beat: I tend to hear the humorous lines and it leaves me with a grin.
11. Long Monday *Maura O'Connell joins John for a set with the band - it's always so nice when he has a female singing with him - and as he puts it "Maura makes even me sound good"
Taking a Walk - Pat and Maura do the Lawrence Welk back up style vocals on this with John. I have always thought that this song was about Ireland... mostly because of the stories that came about when he was feeding the birds and broke his elbow. He sings the song, I see the album cover Fair & Square - but in my mind, he always falls and breaks an elbow.
Angel From Montgomery - Maura added so much to this song, as if she were the middle aged housewife writing it.
This is usually about the time I look over and the webmister's eyes are starting to sag. I usually have to prop his head up but tonight, he really did just close his eyes and listen - as did several people as I glanced around. It wasn't out of boredom, it was relaxing, enjoyable and tonight it seemed that those slower melodic songs were a little more up tempo lending a different interpretation and feeling.
You've Got Gold
15. Donald and Lydia - for the guy from Fort Leonardwood
Dear Abby - of course this turned into a sing-along, as with many Prine tunes, as he plays on stage you can hear the hum of everyone singing along because they "know every single word"
My Hometown - such a pretty song, it hits us all where we live. Prine's voice is so outstanding tonight, not a pebble or frog caught in his throat at all.
18. Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian - He forgot the second verse and a guy yelled out "listen to the grass skirts sway" Prine nodded in thanks and continued from there.
Safety Joe - the audience sang the repeats back to him. He told a story how the Earl of Old Town was such a great training venue for musicians just starting out. Described how the audience was nearly in your lap as soon as they entered the door - with nothing in between to save you.
20.Sam Stone the band joins John at the end
Bear Creek Blues - you wouldn't know that this was a Carter Family song, it's awfully hard to stay seated as each of the talented trio add their twist...
22. She's My Everything - This song was written for his wife, and I suspect he was thinking about her and totally couldn't pull the second verse out of his head.... He started with "She knows..." and then just the tune...no one yelled out the line and John continued and smile they played through the second verse and he picked it back up at the end. It was pretty much a group event and an enjoyable one at that too.
Ain't Hurtin' Nobody - I think this is one of my favorites, Folk Singer Schmolk Singer... this blues tune makes my backbone slip, done in such convincing way, you would never want to hurt anyone again!
Some Humans Ain't Human - he says asshole tonight, and no one walks out... instead they cheer loudly.
Hello In There - Dave Jacques' solos was particularly fabulous
26. Lake Marie - ooh baby we gotta go now....
E: Illegal Smile - Judge's name was Alido
E: Please Don't Bury Me
E: Paradise - at this point Maura, John Mock and Billy Prine join the stage. Billy just seemed to tower over John, with his long white hair and the microphone being hoisted up 3 feet - it was comical. John cranked his neck to look up as Billy sang a verse. The webmister said that Billy needed to come out - as John was getting hot and Billy could provide some shade....
Wow, what a night.... The sky was fat and so were our spirits, all swelled up with another fine Prine time!
I can't say enough on the addition of Pat McLaughlin, combined with Jason Wilber and Dave Jacques the arrangements are superb. They play their hearts out and it is clear that they all enjoy what they are doing, which spills over and forces us all to have a great time. Prine did not spend a whole lot of time on storytelling, and as much as I love the stories, his shortened versions allow more time for more of those truly wonderful songs. They talked amongst each other on stage, Prine was conducting the whole thing - telling the sound men to turn up or turn down, speaking directions to each side of the stage as he changed the set list. It was pure magic and to date, one of the most fantastic concerts I have seen - Prine or not. They put it all out there.
He's playing some really great places at cozy venues. Take a long weekend and discover the city, then top it off with a real delicious Prine dessert. The webmister and I did that this weekend in St Louis and the only thing that would have made it better was if the sun would have peeked his head out. Perfect!
I subtitled this "I was the blind spot" because our seats were in the front row, smack dab in front of John Prine and Jason Wilber. When John would walk out to the front of the stage and look down, well, you know, we all think he's looking and nodding at us. John said he saw Crusher, but didn't see me.... and as he looked at my shirt, which was a brightly colored full shirt painting with sequins, he chuckled, "You should have worn something loud" (maybe the sequins blinded him) It was a small gathering back stage, a few friends and fans and Jason had his wife with him. They were all in such good spirits and mentioned that they drove to the Evansville and St Louis shows. I'll bet it was kind of nice for them to not be tied down to airport schedules and to be able to take a leisurely ride.... possibly to stop in at any Dairy Queen on whim. Can't wait to see how the tour progresses for my next concerts in Wausau and Madison.