Friday, October 12
We sat in the Green room, with the air filled with the smell of fresh pizza.
I felt obligated to crack the seal on the bourbon to settle the nerves, and we awaited curtain call with Andrew leading the way. There was a great audio feed from the mixing board to a speaker up near the ceiling and it was awesome to hear what the crowd was hearing.
Needless to say, Andrew blew them away with his real life stories and songwriting genius. Donors and friends would swing back and forth through the Green Room and the lobby. It just so happened that the Mill Valley Film Festival was running that weekend as well, so we had some walkby traffic, and curious parties stopping in.
Stephen Covell took the stage after Andrew, and did what he does best. Captivating the audience with songs like "Sand Hills to Sandals", he had them exactly where he wanted them until his last word. Then it was my turn...
With a gracious introduction by our founder Erik Brine, I took the stage.
When a performance doesn't go well, there are multiple memories and regrets. Detail after detail bogs down the mind with "I wish I would'ves".
Great performances, on the other hand, go so well, they seem to fly by and they're over long before you'd like them to be. From the moment the band and I went in to "Coming Back To Texas", followed by "Cold Steel Rain", everything just felt like it was meant to be. It was serendipity.
My final song was "The Words" and I don't think it's ever felt more perfect. The audience was just ready. I watched their faces light up, and at the final note of Tom Abbott's guitar, they took to their feet in an standing ovation. It was a beautiful, humbling moment and all the glory goes to God. I was blessed with the most incredible night, friends, audience, and opportunity, and I felt more alive than I'd ever felt in my life.
Following my performance, there was a 10 minute intermission where we were able to meet some of the fans in the lobby. It was a pretty proud moment, but as you'll find with most veterans/military folks, we don't do so well with flattery and praise. I think my face was a nice bright red for the next few hours.
Over the next hour and a half, the crowd was treated to incredible sets by Rachel Harvey Hill, and her silky smooth voice, Tom Abbott taking time out from providing guitar brilliance to every other musician on the bill to share "In Tent City", and Jerry Maniscalco finishing them off with his Dave Matthews-esque, captivating set culminating with every artist on the stage providing background vocals to "We Are".
The show ended at 11. The afterparty ended at 0330.
It was a night I will never forget, and I'm grateful to Guy Jaquier and Operation Encore for making it happen. And God for blessing me with something to share with the world. I hope you will keep listening. Afterall, it feels so good when we sing the words.