Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
Sometimes you get to be a room with amazing people. The press conference for the 30a Songwriters Festival was one of those occasions.
Charlie Mars, Kristian Bush, John Oates, Jim Lauderdale, and Jesse Harris all sitting on the stage at Watercolor’s Fish Out of Water restaurant-turned music venue to open up the weekend long event.
What I love about panel events like this, is it creates an opportunity to get to know their personalities a little better.
With that in mind – here is a quick overview of each of the songwriters in case you aren’t familiar with the amazing scope of talent that was in that single room.
Charlie Mars is on that cusp of being launched into the fame mega-sphere. He has performed at South by Southwest, Austin City Limits and numerous venues across the country. He has opened for the likes of REM, KT Turnstall, and Steve Earle.
Kristian Bush is half of Sugarland, and has two Grammys, six CMAs, and awards from just about every other country music association to his name.
John Oates is a household name. Half of the longtime running musical phenomena of Hall & Oates. (I interviewed him leading up to the event for The Beachcomber.)
Jim Lauderdale is the king of Americana. If you aren’t familiar with him, please become familiar with him. (I also interviewed him leading up to the event for The Beachcomber.)
Jesse Harris has a Grammy under his belt for a song that we all know the words to, thanks to Noah Jones. He has released 12 solo albums in 18 years.
Now, of course there is more to each of these individuals than I can offer up in two sentences. But that’s what Wikipedia is for.
First came the introductions. Each artist said a few words about themselves.
Charlie: “I’m from Oxford Miss and this is my second year at the 30a Songwriters Festival. Anytime there is sun and sand when the rest of the country is freezing its ass off – people are really nice, buy your stuff, and show up. Everyone treats you good..”
Kristian: “My first time. I can’t believe that I haven’t been before. Please have me back.”
John: “My name is Daryl Hall …. This is my third trip to 30a. It has always been a really great thing with amazing people. Amazing artists and venues. It is a great place to be.”
Jim: “This is my second year. It is this convergence of all these great songwriters. Last night before I went to the artist reception, this melody came out. John and I are staying in the same building, and we stayed up late writing last time. Last night we started about three…. this mojo flowing around.”
Jesse: This is my first time here. I haven’t written a song today. I bought a lot of records today… I’m really happy to be here and it is beautiful.”
It was a great loose panel, filled with laughter and doses of irreverence.
When it comes to the performer and their interaction with listeners, especially when it comes to more intimate settings, “You perform in a different way,” shared John. “It is much more about the relationship you can have with a small group of people who are actually into what you are doing. I think people want to find out about your personality through your songs and it’s not all about volume and energy. I love that. I love that opportunity.”.
Jesse had a great enthusiasm for the event as a whole, and a supportive nature towards others. “We all come together in this moment that we want to discover something new. I haven’t lost that. I still am really excited when I find something new and it feels like that here. It feels like Sundance – but for songwriters.”
Jim likened the event to something a little different that Sundance. “It is kind of like performing in my own living room – but the venues here are cleaner and there are no empty pizza boxes… No stale beer smell.”
Only a handful of days before the event, it had been announced that John (as Hall & Oates) would be inductees into the rock n roll hall of fame this year. When asked about it, he played it down – but Charlie had a different version, he claimed he asked John about it in private. “It’s the shit. I asked him earlier and he just went ‘I think I’m the shit.’”
When asked about interesting or embarrassing moments on stage – the guys shared these gems:
Charlie: “I fell off the stage last year, here. It looked like it was a wall… I put my hand on it…”
Kristian: “I’ve not fallen off a stage. But I stood next to someone who did. They are there and then all of a sudden you are like – what happened?
John: “That is exactly what I was going to say… was it a blonde girl?”
Kristian: “Actually it was Uncle Kracker. I was standing next to Kracker and we were in the middle of show. We are singing some cover song and I look over… and he’s not there. What happened? Did the people take Kracker? Turns out he is down. He fell off the stage and thankfully he wasn’t hurt. He is holding onto the rack… looking up. It was scary. And I’ll go all the way to the edge… I should be more careful.”
Jesse: “I shouldn’t say never because then I’ll fall off the stage tonight. I haven’t fallen off the stage yet.”
Jim: “One time I was doing a show with Rob Stanley – it was a gospel song with a real high falsetto. It came around to that part. I came out with that note and it sounded like Alfalfa of The Little Rascals. I just cracked. I was mortified and Rob just burst into laughter.”
John: “Can I tell a story from the 70s?”
Charlie: “You are in the rock n roll hall of fame dude – you can do whatever you want”
John: “We had this really elaborate stage set with these two walkways that went up behind the band and they ended at this huge metal star. It would flash and pulse during the show. Then at the end of the show, the star would split in half and we would ascend the steps and disappear into the star while the band played. We went up one night and the star wouldn’t open… We are at the top of the steps and just pounding away. We are just standing there… and down below us there is someone going ‘JUMP JUMP’. It was really embarrassing. We ended up walking back down the steps… Spinal Tap moment.”
That pretty much was the closing comment of the press conference. I believe it is because, John has just further proven that he is, indeed the shit.
The 30A Songwriters Festival will happen again in 2015 – make it if you can!