Being back at the Red Light Cafe was quite an awesome experience for us. For those that don’t already know, Red Light Cafe was the first place I ever walked onto a stage as a fledgling folksinger/songwriter back in 1998 to a whopping 3 people (my now wife, a friend, and the host). For another year and a half, the Red Light would be my classroom where, in my opinion, I learned from some of the best as to how to become more than just a person on a stage playing and singing songs. It was here that I learned the craft of engaging an audience, telling stories, and creating an experience for the audience. So for 18 years later to be on that same stage with the greatest band that I have every played with to date was an emotion that definitely didn’t go missed by me. I just had a feeling that this was going to be a really magical night.
Collins Drive took the stage and we were able to deliver our full 50 minute set and honestly, I was ecstatic as to how it went over. The room was full of great people and many friends both old and new. The crowd was very attentive and seemed to be ready to settle in for a really fun night of music. We opened with “Lying In Our Bed” and I have to say, that looking back on it, I would probably cut the longer guitar intro if we were to ever use it as an opener. I felt like it was a bit of a slow start for us but once the song got cooking I felt like things just started to take off. “Sailor’s Progress” is a song that I feel like has really developed into this song that is far beyond anything I ever thought it would be. It continues to grow stronger with each passing performance. I really feel like I channeled my best David Crosby for this one and even felt like I was out of my own body for a moment. That is a feeling that is beyond anything you could ever feel.
As always, “Prison Story” was a huge hit and Allison is without a doubt the showstopper. She has really developed so much as a harmony singer and I love hearing our voices together. She’s my Emmylou Harris, my Caitlin Cary, my Kelly Hogan. She is a voice that meshes so well with me and she never disappoints when it comes to bringing the house down with her vocals. This is something that makes me so happy because I love that she gets so much encouragement and positive feedback for all her hard work. This will definitely make it easier for her as we move forward to do vocals together on future songs.
The electric set of the evening was a hoot. I was throwing guitar picks like Paul Stanley and the audience really was digging the change in dynamic. I did feel though that some of my stage banter fell just a bit flat. I’m not sure if it’s because I was talking just a bit too much or if I just didn’t always connect with them on that level but for the most part, they were all very responsive and gave us back a lot of great energy that fueled us. We stumbled a bit trying to get “I Drive” started but after 2 false starts, we convened at the drum kit, sorted it out and then it was smooth sailing from there. As always, we closed with “Ghost Town” but this time around we tried something different. As an intro, I sang the first two verses of “The River” by Blues Pills and this really brought the song to a whole new level. It took us out with a bang for sure and with that we were done. After watching the video clip of this performance, I hate that my high “E” string was a bit out of tune but besides that, I felt like this was one of the most dynamic deliveries of this song we’ve done to date.
The feedback we got from the audience after our show was really overwhelming to me but it was something that was very inspiring to me. The greatest compliment I was paid that night was when a gentleman told me that my songwriting reminded him of his favorite songwriter, John Prine. Hearing feedback like that not only validates me as a writer but I also make sure that it’s something I try to grow upon as opposed letting it grow my ego. That kind of feedback makes me realize that I’m doing a good thing and it just makes me want to do it more and more.
All in all, this was by far my favorite line-up to date. I feel like all the artists played so well this evening and it had such a cohesive flow from start to finish. We had a great time hanging out and getting to know the headliners, American Hologram, and we really enjoyed them. They had some really great songs and it was a paring that we really felt was our best to date. It was a fantastic night of music and it was a night that will stick with me forever as being one of my favorite shows that we’ve played to date.