When I first heard that the concert was going to be in a national guard armory, I thought, "Now, that's a strange place for a Melanie concert", because you usually think of national guard armories as kind of stoic places, not very hip, and not located in hip places. But this armory is in a very hip part of St. Augustine -- it's across the street from Insanitee's. That place could perhaps be described as a head shop without the drug paraphernalia. And the armory itself is built in the old Spanish style of architecture, which made it a friendly looking place for the concert.
I arrived in St. Augustine in the afternoon, well in advance of the concert. After stowing my stuff in a hotel (just a half a block from the armory), I went walking around the town, found Insanitee's, went in, and told the young woman behind the counter that I was there for the Melanie concert. And so she produced my ticket, which I had called in advance for. And she said the doors would open at 6:30. So I looked around a little more, and went back to my hotel to wait for 6:30.
I showed up at the armory, and there was a small group of other Melanites there -- none I recognized (yet). But they weren't letting anyone in yet -- Melanie was inside, doing sound checks. And so I thought, "If Melanie's already here, maybe this thing will start on time for a change." -- wishful thinking, as it turned out. When they finally let us in, I began to get the feeling that these people had no previous experience with Melanie. For one thing, they were playing Woodstock era music over the speakers, but no Melanie. They played Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, and this weird instrumental version of Purple Haze that sounded like a cross between dueling banjos and dueling hippies. I overheard someone say "There's no banjos in Jimi Hendrix". For another thing, there was this huge amount of space between the first row of seats and the stage. They were folding chairs, so they could have put them anywhere. They obviously didn't know that Melanie likes to be close to her people.
I had with me among my stuff three items for Melanie to autograph this time -- my Sunset record album, the good book from my Good Book album, and my 6ths CD. So I took the 6ths CD over to the guy spinning the CD's over the speakers, and said "Play cut 4 of this." He did, and we got to hear at least one Melanie song over the speakers. (The 6ths CD is a CD by a group called the 6ths, and each song on it features a different "guest singer", with Melanie on the 4th one.)
Well, Melanie wasn't there at 7:30, and I'm not entirely sure it was her fault this time, because there were some guys monkeying around on the stage, trying to put up something. It was like 2 bed sheets, tie-dyed like shirts, sewn together to make a long thing, and it had Melanie written on it. To make a long story short, they finally got the thing up, and someone announced that Melanie had arrived (I wonder where she went? -- She was there at 6:30 doing sound checks.), and she went onstage promptly at 8:30, just as someone had told me she would in a phone conversation the day before.
Melanie was in good spirits for this concert, and it turned out to be a very good one indeed. She was there with Beau, and a guy who played those kind of drums that you hit with your hand (bongo drums?), who joined them on the second song (he was even later than Melanie). Here, for those of you who are anxiously waiting, is the song list:
1. Close To It All
2. Perceive It
3. Song Of The South
She said it would be an obscure song that the audience might not know -- hehe.)
4. On The Lam From The Law
After this song, she talked a little about the Libertarians. They even had a table set up in the back with literature. I guess she's serious about this, folks. (The Libertarians are a political party in the US. They are a very minor party.)
5. Song For Robert Johnson
During this song, some young dad went running around in that space between the front row and the stage, holding his little girl like an airplane and flying her around. Melanie stopped singing and said, "I know just what it's like. I've had three of them. Sometimes, there come a time when you just gotta fly your kid around (dramatic pause) in front of the performer." Melanie's sense of humor is just precious. She finished the song after that.
6. Baby Day
Yes, I thought of Wendy during this song, and got goose bumps.
7. Brand New Key
Melanie invited all the kids to come down to the space in front of the seats during the intro for this song. No takers, though, except the flown little girl, this time sitting on the shoulders of a bigger girl (big sister?). The dad came down later, too.
9. La Bamba -- short version
She did this after saying something about having hits in various countries which were recordings she had done, but not officially released.
10. Cerulean Blue
She had asked for suggestions, and this was one of them.
11. Momma, Momma
Before this song, she announced that Beau had just turned 20.
12. Jammin' Alone
She changed guitars before this song, to a single cutaway model, and said, "I bet you haven't seen this guitar in a while."
13. Look What They Done To My Song
14. Ruby Tuesday
15. Beautiful People
As I said, Melanie was in good spirits for this concert, and she and everyone enjoyed it very much. I remembered Dia asking to watch how Melanie shook her head while singing, and so I did, but how do you describe that in words. The neatest "shake" was after the first verse of Perceive It, going into the chorus. Her head went both back and forth, and sideways, if you can imagine. In any case, I tried to get some pictures of her while shaking her head, but I don't know if any of my concert pictures will turn out at all. I was on the front row, but still so far back -- I hope my flash reached. But Debra ("Raging Bull/ The Old Bitch Warrior") was next to me, and she had one of those fancy digital cameras with low light capability, so at least I have someone to say "please, please" to if my pictures don't turn out. (Debra is a member of the Melanie email lists, who signs herself "Raging Bull/ The Old Bitch Warrior".)
The crowd wasn't as big is it could have been, for the size of the
place. Afterwards, I heard talk of them not knowing what to expect,
and that they would promote it better next time. I have a feeling
Melanie blew them away.
Besides Debra, the only other person with a familiar face (not counting Melanie and fam, of course) was a woman from the Borders concert, who's name I can't seem to remember. If you're reading this, please remind me. (I later heard from her, and that her name is Eileen.)
Afterwards, Melanie set up, as usual, to visit with folks and autograph things. And I was glad the crowd wasn't too big, because I knew she'd be able to have a good visit with everybody. I got pictures of myself taken with Melanie (sure hope those turn out), and with Debra. Some of you may not know this, but Debra has a picture of Melanie tattooed on her left arm. It's a very good likeness, and she told me it took 5 hours to do, which she did in one sitting, instead of two as the tattoo artist suggested. I hope that picture comes out, too.
At the St. Augustine concert, they had a raffle, the first prize of which was a guitar autographed by Melanie. Well, who wouldn't want that? So I bought a ticket. I won, but not the guitar. I won a $25 gift certificate to this place called "Cosmic Closet" near Insanitee's. It's a clothing store (men and women), and they describe their stuff as "street wear" -- hip stuff. So I got up the next day and walked to the place from my hotel (just a block away), and noticed that they didn't open until 11. I wanted to leave before then, but I got to spend the certificate later, as you'll see in another report.
The pictures from this concert are here.
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