The first show that we ever played in Englewood, Florida fell on the same day as some sort of typhoon, honest-to-God. Driving down there, you couldn't see twenty feet in front of you on interstate 75, the rain was coming down in chunks. I remember that it rained like that all the way, until we got into town, then it calmed down to a sprinkle. The organizers of the "Saturday Night Live" street festival were kicking back in some chairs near one of the store fronts; nobody else seemed to be around. I rolled down the window and indicated that we were the band. The store owners said that they'd still pay us, but that there was no need to set-up; no-one was there. They'd all been scared off by the squall that had blustered about all day.
"Well, we came to play," I said. "Might as well make it a private party."
And that we did. Set up in a section of the Cafe At Dearborn, we rolled out our tunes, drank sangria (served in, I kid you not, what appear to be fish bowls) and attracted enough stragglers to make it a right fine party indeed. The dear that owns the place, Norma, was very pleased by the turn of events, as was B.J. Teeple, the guy who booked us. Before we had finished the first set, B.J. was on the phone to Jae, booking us for another performance.
Englewood's a magical little town. Small. Quirky. But a good kind of quirky, like "Northern Exposure" kind of quirky, but not necessarily strange. The people are friendly, many of them artistic, and there's just a general energy, a vibration that we get when we roll over into city limits and onto Dearborn. Like the energy you can feel when crossing over from Stock Island to Key West, it's electric.
We returned for a second show, without chance of showers, and made a lot of new friends, which led to a third show, and a fourth. Yesterday's show was our fifth time performing at "Saturday Night Live" and while talking about some of these memories from that first gig with some of the residents, it became apparent to me that as a band, we had developed very nuanced relationships, not to mention history, with the town of Englewood. When B.J. was killed in a car crash last year, we all felt the impact, it was rippling all through the fourth show, which was quite the emotional one.
When we pulled up into the parking lot, Norma was about to leave, but stopped, open-mouthed, when she saw us pull in. Apparently, we were a surprise, because she had no clue that we were going to be the entertainment that evening.
"Oh my God, Mohave's here. I'm going to be busy! I've only got two servers!" she said with some concern. After a nice long hug, she quickly sped away in search of extra help for the evening, leaving Automatic and myself wrapped in a warm, afterglow sweater. I was humbled before Norma, it was such an incredible thing that she said, it almost didn't register. And so it went with all of the locals who made it a point to come over and let us know that they'd been seeing past performances. Call me a silly simpleton, but the idea of people coming to see your band multiple times is a real gobsmacker, it's stunning to conceive of - I'm happy if one person shows up, you know? And not only in Englewood, but in Sanford this past Thursday, everyone in the band has gotten some really, really incredible and generous compliments on the music, to the point where we were like "whooooa". You know?
It's the love like that which feeds every show, it is the reason for the playing, first and foremost a connection between me and the band, then a connection between band and audience, which leads to a connection of audience and world, it's a little rock in a huge pond with ripples flowing outwards as far as matter itself. I love love, I love this life!
The only bummer thing for me over the weekend was that Jae wasn't there, which is weird, not having her there for an away show. But she went on a little ocean getaway with some friends of ours, and it was a long time coming, so she had a great time - but I still missed her.
And now what?
Tomorrow or Tuesday, I'll go back in with Dave and continue the mixing process. Also, there's been some sort of re-orchestration of Orange Blossom Music Festival schedules due to some changes in plans overall, I believe no camping is allowed now, but more info can be found here. Far as I can tell, the music will go on as planned - I hope so! Nothing sucks worse than musicus interruptus.