A ride down Goodbye Road.

My wife and I don’t agree on music.

We agree on most things: The lawn should be mowed once a week, Christmas lights don’t go up until after Thanksgiving, snacks are essential when beer is present, and we know we can’t please everyone. We’re not avocados.

When it comes to tunes, we have our flags planted deeply on separate, but respectable islands. Johnnyswim is our bridge. Abner and Amanda (we’re all on a first name basis now) create a space where our tastes overlap. Like a Choco Taco. Throw some twang on their L.A. vibes and the indie folk lyrics play just as easily on country radio as they do on the Coffeehouse.

I wanted you to hear all that so you could grasp the monumental event that was Saturday night—an agreeable concert for both parties where Johnnyswim, Drew Holcomb, and Penny + Sparrow shared The Pageant stage.

What a nice back of the head you have.

You know the feeling you get when you realize you’ve selected the worst seat in the venue but now there’s nothing you can do about it because it’s standing room only and the opener just hit the first chord? I do.

I don’t need to rehash how I ended up there. It involved a cup of water, a 16oz. PBR, and an ill-placed coat check sign. That’s a story for another blog, but it concluded with my seat for the next three hours. Luckily, I was in good company.

From my perch on a back-row stool, the views were primarily the napes of two (I assumed) newlyweds seated 2 1/2 feet in front of me. They were adorable. Unaware of the challenges and joys ahead in their relationship or the fact that they were making a decidedly better door than window.

The bite-sized sections of the show I saw were great. They occurred when the new bride would rest her head on our groom’s shoulder or he would sneak a peck on the cheek. In those brief bursts of marital bliss, I would get my equally blissful hit of live music. And what a blessing it was.

My view for the night.

Our family for the night.

You may have heard, we’re building a music festival in Cape Girardeau as I type. We learn from live shows and experiences we’re bringing home from across the country. Saturday night confirmed some thoughts and put a few things in new perspective. We know hearing about a concert from someone is like looking at another family’s vacation pics, but bear with us.

  1. When the focus shifted from the forms on stage to the feelings in the room, the music was better. Not seeing Drew Holcomb and his Neighbors croon about Tennessee somehow made the words palpable (and I don’t like the word palpable).
  2. When you have an open mind, it can be blown. It would be fair to classify Penny & Sparrow as melancholy. However, it’s hard to take two men as ultra-serious when they blend I Wanna Dance with Somebody with crowdsourced bullwhip sound effects. I didn’t know Penny & Sparrow Saturday morning. They now occupy a solid place on my playlist.
  3. We are family. Abner opened their set by welcoming us as such—birds of a feather. He then fired up the crowd with a line only a dad could use to evoke excitement in the house, “We’re gonna stay up late tonight, alright?!” This was the theme of the evening, a celebration of the community live music and small venues can create. That was obvious by the closing chants of “family, family” from the audience and Holcomb’s observation that the “force that binds us all together is much stronger than any one that tries to tear us apart.”

That was an admittedly long way to tell you our intent for The Shipyard: to create an unexpected experience that binds a group of friends and strangers—if only for the day—through the simple comforts of good music, good food, and community. A party with a purpose. And hopefully without someone’s dome blocking your view.

See you in September.