Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Shannon Whitworth Concert

There’s something about small, intimate, concert venues that makes a person feel special. It’s kind of like hanging with your peeps at the corner pub. Then add a celebrity to the mix! I remember sharing a bathroom with Olympia Dukakis…. which has absolutely nothing to do with the latest concert at Whimzey.

Shannon Whitworth , Barrett Smith, and Matt Smith (no relation) played Friday night to the delight of friends, and friends of friends, at the Whimzey House Gazebo. Once again, Todd and Kiaralinda set up chairs, a little tent, and ordered crazy good pizza. They’ve become awesomely efficient at showcasing musical talent. By the time they move future concerts to the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center in downtown Safety Harbor they’ll be old pros in the musical promotion bidniz.

Shannon reminds me a little of Gillian Welch and Mary Gauthier, with a sprinkling of Mary Chapin Carpenter here and there. Probably I’m entirely wrong. My daughter, road wrangler for punk bands, informed me that I have an “untrained ear” when I compared a band I liked to the Cure. Sigh.

The point is, is that music, as with all art, resonates in very specific and personal ways with every

I didn't expect a young, raven-haired musician. I don’t know why, but I didn’t. Maybe it’s because her music is very wise and lived-in. I rarely expect such insight from the young, but that’s so unfair because there are countless old souls in young bodies in the art world.It almost goes without saying.  Shame on me.

Shannon, who lives in Brevard NC, arrived with her boys fresh from The Riverhawk Festival near Brookesville. They’d also played festivals in Dataw Island ,South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. These were decidedly larger crowds than her Friday evening venue with us. Early Friday morning T. and K. took them to the WMNF studio in Tampa for a 9 a.m. radio concert. They were blown away by the “vinyl room”. Todd said the whole experience reinforced the reason they love doing the whole music thing.

Shannon shared some good stories in between songs. She’s a banjo lover and was particularly taken with the “claw hammer” style of picking that she learned from a gentleman named Mark Johnson. She’d practice day and night. Her roommate at the time found her passed out with the banjo on top of her, so dubbed it her “manjo.” It stuck. But she’s not in a monogamous relationship with her manjo. She plays around with her Ukulele and guitar quite a bit too.

We were fortunate and willing guinea pigs when she tried out a couple of brand new songs on us. It was not a painful experience. Her guitar player and co-vocalist Barrett joked that she is a “professional tuner” when she prepared to play us another song. She shot back with a good dig about riding in a van for long hours with a couple of stinky boys. Matt likes to play his peddle steel with his bare feet. He took us on a little side trip to Hawaii. It was pretty cool.

My Dad would have loved some of the songs they performed because they reminded me a little of what we’d listen to as we traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway on summer vacations.His was a Tennessee taste in music. Her rendition of Patsy Cline’s Crazy took a lot of balls. But she didn’t do a carbon copy, she did a “Shannon’s Own.” I was especially taken with the band’s rendition of Duncan by Simon and Garfunkle.

It was a very good night. The air was crisp and people were happy.

I would have loved to have met the band but I realized when I almost fell butt-first into the bromeliads that it was time to walk home. Many thanks to Randy Kautz of Safety Harbor for the excellent photos and for filling in some of the band’s background for me. Shout out Randy! And of course thanks to K.and T., Heather,  Holly,  and Ginny for all their hard work creating more good memories.

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