April 26, I experienced another great moment in my life…Shawn Phillips gig!!!
Let me tell my story:
7:30PM: I first arrived at Drummondville at Bistro “Le St-Georges” with my wife (Diane) and Paulo Medeiros (thanks Paulo for the lift), after an hour of travel from Montreal. We got in and saw Ronnee and her friends reserving a place for us IN FRONT OF Shawn doing sound check. The place was so small that we were almost sitting on Shawn’s knees 😉
9:45PM: Shawn began the gig with the ” WE ARE REAL…” (Free Samples) song. (Ronnee takes notes of the song list). From our very good seats, the sound was wonderful. After “Steel Eyes”, Shawn even thanked the crowd because we heard only the air conditioner during the silent part of the song. I mean no Pop POP pOp PoP poP corn machine there… 🙂 At the back of the place, the noise of the crowd was a bit loud though.
11:30PM: Intermisssion. I stood up and had a talk with François Trahan (Hi François), a diligent EMH reader.
12:00PM: Second set. Shawn put on a nice show, just looking at notes when he did the oldest songs such as “EMH” and “Manhole Covered Wagon”. After all, he played them 27 years ago. The last song “Peace Song” grabbed the audience. Everybody was happy to spend a moment with this generous man.
About 1:30PM: End of the show. Shawn held an autograph session and then came to eat and chat with us. We talked about his new house, firefighter anecdotes and the meaning of all those patches on his new dark blue uniform. We talked about how his finances are getting a bit better and different subjects ’til it was time to go.
3:00PM We exchanged hugs and handshakes and wished each other goodbye ’til next time! What a great moment it was…
Well, I sure had a lovely weekend in Quebec once again. I went up with some friends of mine, John and Kathy. John had given me my frist SP album in ’77 (Collaboration) He had seen Shawn in about ’74 in N. Dakota (Fargo, possibly) in a large indoor arena, and was anxious to see him in a small intimate setting. Intimate? If it were any more intimate we would have been breathing into the microphone!!! Well…let me start from the beginning…..
We arrived in Drummondville very early, to find the club, rent a room, and hopefully go up to Quebec City for the afternoon (we never made it to QC). We got to the club at 12:30, paid for our tickets, and spoke to Charles, the owner, a very pleasant guy! We asked him if we could save the front table because we had 6 people coming, and we would be back later. He said he usually doesn’t like to do it, but this time he would. He put a “reserved” sign on the table with a note: “amis de Shawn Phillips” (friends of SP!)
We spent the day around Drummondville, and about 6pm found ourselves walking by the club on the way to find a nice French place for dinner. As we passed the club, I saw the blue van with overhead lights, and knew it was Da Man!! I went over to the driver’s side and gave Shawn a big hug and kiss through the open window. Introduced him to my friends, and told him we’d see him after dinner. Had a very nice dinner at a place up the street, and came back around 7:15.
Shawn was setting up, and telling me about his brand new Apple Notebook and also his new keyboard/synth, when I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was Jean and Paulo!! It was great to see Jean and his wife Diane again (I stayed with them last year) and to meet Paulo for the first time. Within the next hour or so, the club began to fill up. Shawn left to change clothes and get ready, and the club was still filling up. Soon the club filled up completely, and it was still filling up…..you get the picture? By the middle of the gig you couldn’t get another person in that place with a shoe-horn!! The people at our table were nearly forming one body!
One lady arrived after the first song or two, and tried to discretely make her way up to the table at the left of the stage, where her friends were sitting. She finally got there, and sat down, only to have Shawn shout out “You’re late!!!” (laughter all around!)
Shawn opened with Free Samples (chorus, ‘we are real’). He played for 2 1/2 hours with a brief intermission. He spoke to the audience in French as much as he could, but filled in with English when he didn’t know the French words, so the humor came across to everyone pretty equally. As Jean mentioned, he read from lyric sheets for the two songs he’s added to this tour, EMH and Man Hole Covered Wagon, which he said he hasn’t sung since it was recorded on Contribution.
On the first tune the voice seemed a bit weathered. The second tune, Discoveries, started out a little scratchy too, but as soon as he went into the first patch of “do do do doo doo do dooooo”, his voice opened up completely, and it was Classic Shawn for the rest of the night. No major troubles at all, except his guitar decided to hide the last note of one of the tunes on him, but after a little while it gave it back!
Most of the songs were done on the two steel-stringed acoustic guitars, one or two on the midi classical guitar, and about 3 on the StratoPaul. He rocked the house when he went electric, and I leaned over to John and Paulo and said, “and who says he’s a folk singer?!?!?” I’ll tell you, that man can rock your socks off, even as a solo!
Anyway…the set list went like this:
One Way Ticket
Power of a Woman
Man Hole Covered Wagon
Hey Miss Lonely
Song for Sagitarians
Lookin’ up, Lookin’ down
It Takes No Time
Early Morning Hours
May Peace Prevail on Earth
After the show, Shawn sat with us for a little bit, and then did the autograph thing at the front of the club. Once he realized that Jean was *the* Jean B. who did the web page, he was thrilled and thanked Jean again for all his hard work. He came and sat with us again while he ate his dinner, and we talked long into the night. When the club lights finally came up, we left and Paulo, Jean and Diane gave me a ride back to my motel (my friends had left right after the show, due to the late hour and the smoky haze in the room).
My friends and I got up early the next morning and drove to Montreal to spend the day with Jean and his family. We had a wonderful time walking around the city, and the whole weekend was filled with good friends and music. I didn’t get much sleep, but it was well worth it. Thank you Jean, Diane (Didi), and Paulo. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to meet François. But mostly, thank you, Shawn, once again!
I too must add to the Drummonville show’s critique. In short, it was AMAZING, real AMAZING! Did I say it was AMAZING? I had the best seat in the house…bar none, and Jean Diane Ronnee John and Kathy can vouch for that. That gentleman can surely carry and belch out a tune. And I speak of experience…this is my fourth concert in four years…straight! Shawn, sir, I salute you, your talent and your gift of song and writing! How come everytime I hear him sing, I am moved. I don’t know if Jean and Ronnee saw me, but I had a grin from ear to ear, all during the show.
It was kind of him to sit with us and just chew the fat! I was equally delighted to meet Ronnee, and BTW thanks for the great seats, “Tu es une bonne Amie, merci!”. Jean and Diane, it was fun driving to and from the show!. I had bloodshot eyes the next morning…teaching Sunday school!
I just can’t wait for this Friday at the Medley.
For those of you out there contemplating whether to go or not go to any of Shawn’s shows…think twice, it is by far the best money invested!
Signing off, goodnite and godspeed!