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Melanie at the South Florida Folk Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, January 13 and 14, 2001

Let me start out by saying that this weekend was the most fantastic Melanie weekend ever! Now for the expanded version.

I decided to make my trip down a very leisurely one, so I started out on Thursday (the festival was to be on Saturday and Sunday). If you recall my report on the St. Augustine concert, you may remember that I won a gift certificate to a store there at the concert. So I drove to St. Augustine on Thursday, got a hotel there, and spent my gift certificate. I got a cool Janis Joplin T-shirt, and a little gift for a friend. The next day, I headed down to Andrew Jason's house, where I would be staying for the weekend. After a few wrong turns, I finally found it, and after doing a few things with him, settled in for the night.

The next morning, he had to work for a while, so I left by myself for the festival. I found that with no wrong turns at all. The first thing I did was locate the stage where Melanie would be having her songwriting workshop that afternoon, and note in the program when it would be, and I just hung around, watching various acts. Mostly I watched the singer-songwriter competition, and they were all quite good -- well, they had to be just to be there.

Melanie's part for that day was to be at 4 in the afternoon, so I went to the stage at 3 with the idea of finding a good seat. Well, the seats were all taken for the act currently performing, so I just hung around. Actually, there weren't enough chairs at that stage at all, so all but the most obscure acts wound up with people standing or sitting on the grass. Eventually I spotted a pretty good seat and took it. Then I saw Peter and Melanie, and Andrew Jason with them, off to the side, and I thought "Whew -- Melanie's on time".

Well, Melanie really didn't know what do for a songwriter's workshop, so she and Beau went on stage prepared to sing, and she said that she would just sing a few songs and take questions from the audience. I figured that's the way it would go, because I've heard Melanie say before that songs just come to her -- she doesn't plan them. But she got to tell her Brand New Key story to an audience made mostly of folks that hadn't heard it before. They loved her singing, and they loved Beau's guitar work, too. I didn't write down the songs that she sung, but one of them was her new one, "And We Fall". She sung this one because someone asked what her favorite song was, of the ones she had written, and she said that it was always the latest one she had written. After the workshop-concert, I had her autograph a couple of things for other folks, and the program for me. I was wearing my Janis Joplin T-shirt (which she thought was cool), so she wrote on my program, "To Pat, Love Janis -- oh, I mean Melanie." I just love her sense of humor!

After Melanie was done chatting with fans, I hung around with her and her family along with Andrew, which turned out to be very cool. They didn't mind me hanging out at all, and I helped out whenever I could. I had become a "roadie" for Melanie! I got to eat with them in the "hospitality tent" -- a place where the festival folks supplied free food for the performers. And after that, Peter wanted to watch the Joel Rafael Band, so we went to the main stage area. There weren't any convenient seats, so Beau and Andrew went off and came back with chairs. Melanie sat down, and Peter motioned for me to sit beside her, with Andrew on the other side. There were two acts to go before Joel, and they were pretty good -- they both had some novelty songs that had the audience laughing. Then Joel and his band came on, and they were quite good, but I noticed that all their songs seemed to have the same tempo, and mentioned that to Melanie. She said, "Yeah, and the same chords, too".

There were a couple of other acts after Joel, but Melanie and Peter were done watching after that so we dispersed. When I finally got back to Andrew house, I wondered how I was ever going to top the previous day's events.

The next day, I went back to the festival early that afternoon (Andrew was elsewhere at the time), and hung around watching various acts. One singer who particularly impressed me was Kate Long, so I bought one of her CD's. Later I found Peter, Beau, and Andrew, but Melanie was not there because she was resting up for tonight's show. So I hung around with them, got to eat in the hospitality tent again, and I got to listen to Peter and Beau and other musical folks chat about the business -- very interesting. Then Peter and Beau, along with Andrew, went off to get Melanie, and I watched some more acts on the main stage, waiting for Melanie. When it was about 40 minutes before Melanie was to go on, I was getting just a little worried that Melanie would be late, so I called Andrew's cell phone from mine, and he said they'd be there in about 10 minutes. And they were there in not much longer than that.

Then I became a roadie again and helped carry a few things to backstage, and hung around backstage while Melanie and Peter and Beau talked with folks about how they wanted things on the stage, etc. Melanie seemed a bit nervous -- she later said she always is when she does this kind of show. I guess it's the prospect of singing before folks who don't know her. Then I heard Melanie talking to someone about how some folks in the audience had lost their son to an auto accident, and that they wanted her to sing "Tell Me Why" (from "Gather Me") in tribute to him. She wanted to do it with a chorus, and so she was asking people to be a chorus for her, for this song. Well, I couldn't let this one pass, so I mentioned to her that I had been in the Navy Bluejacket Choir many years ago, so she invited me to be in the chorus, too!

As it turns out, I need not have worried about her being late, because the other acts were running over anyway, and she didn't get to go on till 9:30 (she was scheduled for 9). I watched from the side of the stage while they announced her, and Peter held her hand while she walked up the steps to the stage. And sorry folks, there was so much excitement this time that I didn't think to write down the songs, but I do remember that she started with "My Rainbow Race". Others I remember she did were her big hits ("Brand New Key", "Look What", etc. Her rendition of "Lay Down/Candles" was particularly moving this time.) and she also did "Baby Day", "Tuning My Guitar", "And We Fall", and at the end, "Tell Me Why", with her "chorus" (including me!). We went through "Tell Me Why" 3 or 4 times, including one time humming. After she went off stage, the people cheered, so she and Beau went back on and did an encore of "Beautiful People". I was right beside the stage, behind the speaker tower, most of the time, so I think I got some pretty good pictures.

Afterwards they took Melanie to the tent where they were selling CD's for all the performers, and set her up so she could sign things. I had already had gotten my things signed, so I just hung around with Melanie, and as it turned out, she called on me a few times to answer questions. Someone asked her what album "Tell Me Why" was from, and she couldn't think of it right away, so she asked me that one, and also directed them to me if they had any website questions. After she was done signing things and chatting with folks, Peter asked me to walk her back to the car, which I gladly did. Peter wanted to stay behind and talk to some folks, so Beau and Andrew took her back to her hotel, and I hung around with Peter.

Finally, I took Peter back to the hotel in my little truck (which he thought was cool), and got to chit-chat with them there a bit, and got a goodbye hug from Melanie -- the perfect end to a perfect day!

Andrew Jason's Review:

It was truly fantastic for me too! I will post pictures. It was great to help Melanie, Beau and Peter. They were truly nice to both me and Pat. What great people! What great music! And the new song, "And We Fall" is my favorite song now (not that I have it on tape, I don't). It is wonderful. I heard that Arlo Guthrie had a concert at the same time nearby. He only got a crowd of 500 (a friend of mine was there) and Melanie got 1000. Those were official numbers, although surely not exact. My brother and his girlfriend came in 20 minutes before the Melanie festival closing and they had to pay $20 each!

At one point before the show, Beau played a Flamenco instrumental he wrote (I think he calls it Dad) and impressed us all and Joel Rafael and his daughter, the great violinist, Jamaica (named after a Jackson Brown song). Later, when we were in the hospitality tent we heard people talking about Beau's playing. It truly is amazing. And to think he's only 20 and basically self taught.

Melanie had two cool drummers in the background. One of them on loan from the Joel Rafael Band. Also, she had a great "Spoken Word Performance Artist" Do some cool poetry in the middle of Candles in the Rain. Sorry, I don't have names, but I may get them. I was prepared. I had two Bics. One for me, and my brother with the other. When she sang "Hold your Candles High" up went the Bics and many others followed. Melanie later said that she noticed that. I know she closed with "Beautiful People" and it made me tear up real good. She also did Baby Day (more tears), Momma Momma, Look What They Done to My Song, Brand New Key. She started with Rainbow Race and then Jamming Alone, I think. She didn't do Ruby Tuesday.

And imagine Pat Swayne up there on stage singing with Melanie!! I was so happy for him. He was smiling. I took pictures.

The pictures from this concert are here.

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