Notes from the Road – The Gas Hog Tour 2008 – Day 23 Friday, August 1st I got up at Bill & Barbara’s with all good intentions to be on the road to Savannah by 9 am. However, the hospitality and excellent company at the Derby B&B was just too wonderful to rush away from. After coffee out on the deck watching the humming birds Barbara served a magnificent breakfast that I’m sure knocked a little whole in the weight I had managed to lose on this trip. Though I hated to leave I had a long drive to Savannah (about 6 hours) and needed to get under way. So, well supplied with a large travel mug of coffee and a carefully wrapped stash of Barbara’s fresh brownies from the night before, I ground out of their driveway at just before 10 am. The drive to Savannah was largely Interstate and not overly interesting. However, I always use that mindless driving time to work through song ideas in my head and sing anything worthwhile into a little portable recorder that I carry. A little beyond the halfway mark I reached Dublin, Ga. That area is where my grandfather Spears was born and raised. I had visited my great grandmother there once when I was very small, but still remember the cotton field, the old house, the outhouse (yep, still in use), etc. Though I really didn’t need gas yet, I pulled off and refilled, mostly just to set foot in that area again. I rolled into Savannah (actually Tybee Island where my host, Hank Wiseman lives) a little after 4 pm. After being introduced to David and Nancy, Hank’s friends from the Asheville area who come down and help out with the monthly concert series, and getting the grand tour of Hank’s lovely home out on the Island, we loaded my gear into David’s car and went for a quick bite to eat before heading out to the show. The Savannah Folk Music Society is a labor of love for Hank and his cadre of volunteers. In addition to an annual Festival, several solo concerts during the year and other workshops, activities, etc., they put on the monthly First Friday for Folk Music, a three hour program featuring three artists. There is a minimal donation for admission which goes to the Folk Society to support their various programs and the artists play for product sales only. However, the audience here has a long standing reputation as voracious CD consumers. When you consider that they draw a monthly crowd of more than 200 folks to these shows, CD sales can be quite significant. On the program for the evening was Bill Shulman (a local favorite on a vintage Martin twelve string), followed by veteran national touring artist Bruce Piehoph from Greenville, SC and, concluding the evening, the guy with guitar calluses an gas pump calluses, Moi. A near sell out crowd, not more than a dozen seats available speckled through the audience in this great auditorium at a Presbyterian Church in Savannah – wonderful sound, lighting, large stage, etc. And a crowd that was there for one thing and one thing only – to hear the music, what a treat!! Bill Shulman’s set really got the crowd warmed up with old favorites, some humorous numbers and a couple of sing alongs. I can see why Bill is so well liked and appreciated by his “home crowd.” Then Bruce Piehoph took the stage, and I mean TOOK it. Bruce is an astounding writer and presenter of his vast collection of original material that has filled 17 albums (that are still available) over a career of 40 years. This was Bruce’s third appearance at First Friday and the crowd responded to him like a returning member of the fold. Just an outstanding performance – I was privileged to get to see it, much less be saddled with the task of following it! But, follow it I did and to a tremendous reception by this attentive crowd. Based on comments following the show from the crowd around the CD table, favorites seemed to be Teppintine, Yellow Butter Moon (a new song I’ve been playing this trip), This Old House, Sinner’s Song and Break Some Stones. Wonderful folks, including Sandy Branam, a renowned Savannah artist who produced water color paintings of each performer during their set! I’ll have a copy of that posted soon. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and have been invited back which I’m looking forward to immensely. And, the CD buyers did their part in helping to defray my enormous gas bill for this tour. Thanks SFMS!! Back at Hank’s digs on Tybee Island (Sandra Bullock is his next door neighbor – she sent word that she was so sorry to miss my show but was having babies and shooting movies elsewhere – NOT!) Bruce and his lovely bride Laura joined us and we sat nibbling snacks, swilling beer and comparing notes on mutual friends until the wee hours. As you might guess we solved most of the world’s problems and concluded we were all geniuses before the beer ran out. As a consequence of the long day I was physically and mentally incapable of completing these notes and left them for later submission. But as it turned out my last couple of days would be quite busy indeed – MORE TO FOLLOW >