Peachtree City, GA – The Fred Amphitheater – 2015

Fredrick “Freddy” Brown Jr. Amphitheater – Peachtree City, GA – 2015

We just spent a wonderful two nights and day in Peachtree City, GA at the Fredrick Brown amphitheater with 20 tables right down front with folks drinking anything too thin to chew and eating their favorite foods. And at the moment it’s Sunday morning and we’re on our way to the airport and heading home. Laughing and singing Charlie Daniels’ “Devil went down to Georgia”. We had a wonderful time. That’s always the case in Georgia. Usually Atlanta at Chastain Park but this time in a beautiful amphitheater with mostly people who’ve never been to a Jarreau concert. I love this phenomenon. We’ll be back to that in a minute.

Maybe I should have known all of this would unfold as it did because of a rare airplane experience for me. It’s quite common to be sitting in a section of the airplane where a person or two will recognize me. On the way here from home I sat down next to a guy in his 30s with whom I exchanged a nice “good morning” and we both began to settle in for the flight. I suppose that because of a comment or two from other passengers he inquired about what I do. So I gave him my quick little answer that I do music and I’m on my way to Atlanta for a concert. Pretty soon I’m answering questions about what music I do and verify my name, which he’s heard other people mentioning. He’s struggling a bit to make some sort of connections in his mind about the obscure little facts including the kind of music that I do and now he’s kind of getting it. So now comes the question, “Where you from?” When I said Milwaukee, his eyes lit up and a huge grin was on his face as he said, “I’m from Port Washington!” Which is just up the street from Milwaukee.  Man, we laughed like for two hours discussing everything from being cheese heads, Milwaukee breweries, Wisconsin Badgers fight song, and “oh ya you betcha”. Both of us saying it’s the best place in the world to grow up. His name was Jim and we promised to stay in touch. So all of this should have been the good omen that this weekend would be over the moon!  That was one of most wonderful airplane rides I’ve ever taken.

I don’t know maybe it did or did not predict what a wonderful time we would have in Georgia in a town 40 miles away from Atlanta. It doesn’t get any greener and summery than Georgia does between June and September. The trees and greenery seem to create and fill the air with their own moisture that always makes it feel like the back porch with lemonade and a fan (someone brought me one on stage!).

This was our tune up and rehearsal date for the summer tour and so we all arrived in the early afternoon to do a rehearsal of some new music. Hey, you kids in the back row. Be quiet and pay attention! This is what you have to do sometimes. This is how you maximize rehearsal time. It’s a little rough, but if you tack on a little extra rehearsal time to a normal sound check you can get a little more comfortable. It worked out great! …even though I was a little rusty on some songs that we haven’t played for awhile.

Sabrina Murtaugh opened the show in the singer/songwriter, Tracy Chapman-Ricky Havens, guitar strumming approach.  Sweet face and warm magnetic style with fire. Later on she told me she’s from Carolina and lives in Nashville now and this new audience was warm and liked her a lot. She said she has a quartet she performs with as well. I told her that I would love it if she didn’t lose her solo performing and mentioned getting a 16inch bass drum for her to use.

There were a few quick announcements after she finishes and they call my name and we hit the stage. I promise you there’s a freshness in the reaction and on the faces of people who are hearing and seeing me and my guys in what we do for the first time. There’s a lady a couple tables back who has her fingers squeezed together and intertwined and her eyes darting back and forth from one side of the stage to the other. Not everybody was like her but I knew and the band knew that these were new friends. I spent time on stage talking about making these new friends, and I should have mentioned that so many there last night were connected to the military. Anyway this won’t be the last time I mention standing up in front of new audiences…these days we get to Poland and Lithuania and Azerbaijan.

I sat on the stool down front, and though I felt conspicuous and self-conscious, the audience seemed to not notice until I made some comment about surgery last October. A new facet and “ah-ha” experience happened when someone from the audience shouted, “We Got By”. I look at Larry with a question mark and he touches the piano in a couple of ways that make me know where the key is and off we go…impromptu…and they know it. That’s what’s cool.

That was kind of the spirit of the evening. I won’t mention the exact new tunes that we did. I want it to be a surprise…we’ll be near you soon. But it all had the effect of really elevating the spirit and feeling in the band as we played old things in combination with new stuff and came off refreshed. I think we’re all looking forward to a return to Peachtree City and ex-mayor Fredrick Brown’s amphitheater.

Chris Walker’s wife was there, along with his sister-in-law and a cast of thousands, including a second sister-in-law who was pregnant nine years ago and hadn’t figured out a name yet for her soon to be born son. They looked at me with raised eyebrows and question marks and I said, “Of course, call him Zion.” He was there too. Icing on the cake was Fred Hielsberg from Ripon showing up. Class of 1961.

Ok folks. That’s it for now. I’m going to go home and jump in the studio with Melissa Manchester for an afternoon and then I’ll see you in Yountville!



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