Last night I saw Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart perform in Herndon VA. The room was small and not completely sold out, which may have disappointed the folks who booked them. But man I loved their show so damn much, and the other listeners were also enthusiastic with their applause and cheers.
Mark is a great picker. He had played lead guitar for Freddie Fender and some other big-time acts, though I wasn’t familiar with his playing before this show. Lots of Chet Atkins stuff, a little bottleneck, and just good rocking stuff on plugged-in acoustic. He had a unique thing going where he would play thumpy dampened bass runs while Stacey played straight-up rhythm guitar, and they both sang on top of it. I guess plugging in your acoustic guitar is the only way you could pull off the bass thing. It was really sweet sounding, two guitars and two voices all complementing each other.
I have always liked Stacey Earle’s songwriting when I’ve heard her here and there on Americana radio shows etc. She loads up with lots of emotions but in a subtle, real way. Not sappy or dramatic too much, but real emotions that stir up my feelings. Her song, “Just Another Day,” about going through a long, listless day feeling very lonely, that one grabbed me last night. She had me and probably many others crying with her story about getting a phone call to say that her son had passed on in a military accident, only to get another call saying that he was actually OK. She walked around the room as she told the story, very connected with the audience.
They both walked around the room unplugged to finish the second set, with guitars and voices creating such sweet sounds in stereo right around everyone’s ears. I can’t see well enough to notice such things, but a friend told me that they really looked like they loved each other. Oh yeah, they are married and have been performing together for many years.
Before Stacey and Mark started, there was a brief open mike. Three of us sang a song each. I sang a brand new song that no one has heard before, called “Stranger In The Rain.” I got a lot of compliments on it, and our friend Fang told me she could just hear some good harmony vocal parts for it. During the intermission, Stacey told me she liked my picking and that my song was very well crafted. What a sweetheart she was. I asked her if her song “just Another Day” was on a CD. She looked at one, then another, but she couldn’t find it. So I bought their “Town Square” CD and took my seat at the other side of the room. She came across the room a few minutes later and said, “Here’s the song you wanted, on our live CD. Do you want this one instead?” I thought she was very thoughtful to make such a fuss like that.
Yeah, what a great show, and some warm-hearted conversations from two great musicians.