Shovels and Rope at Jack Rabbits

Credit – Danae Leake from The Spinnaker

What a great Valentine’s Day gift all the way from Charleston, SC. Even before palmetto state’s Shovels and Rope took the stage on February 13 there was already limited floor space, a good sign that the audience was in store from some rich Southern folk rock. After an entertaining set by Austin, TX native Shakey Grave, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent took control of the stage.

Dressed in a bright red cowgirl shirt Cary manned the drums sporting a wide smile, while Michael humbly strapped on his guitar, and let “Keeper” start things off. With assistance from an occasional harmonica or keyboard the two showered the crowd with catalog ranging from 2013′s O’ Be Joyful, individual material and even a few songs for their soon to be released CD.

On Twitter Shovels announced “It’s the beginning of tour! Jacksonville, there’s an awful lotta good songs written about you, so show us some leg and get down tonight!”, with Shakey Graves adding “Ok Florida…let’s do this”. It was a calling the crowd honored as they danced and sang along to Shovels favorites “Birmingham”, “O’ Be Joyful”, “Tickin’ Bomb” and “Kemba’s Got the Cabbage Moth Blues”. Most memorable might have been the dead silence that filled the packed Rabbits during “Lay Low”, my personal favorite.

Shovels stage persona is one of intrigue, with Trent allowing Hearst’s personality to shine through. With limited crowd dialogue, though enough to keep the 300 plus satisfied, it was their own onstage interaction that sold not only the songs but the night itself. And the crowd fed of that intimacy as strangers slowly became friends. “Cavalier” found Trent inches from Hearst, yet with all that heat it was a stage tease with only lyrics separating them.

Playing for just over two hours, this Americana duo gave as much love as they got. At one point they thanked the crowd for coming out on a Thursday to help them launch this leg of the tour, and I could not help thinking we got more than we paid for. And maybe, just maybe, they might return so Jacksonville could give even more back. Doing some research on future dates it looks like sold out shows will be as common as dirt, something this band more than deserves.

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

A few more words on Shakey Graves. Driving all the way from Austin that day, this solo artist engaged the attendees with sharp and witty lyrics backed by fluid guitar work. His singing style left some words inaudible and the audio quality was at times distorted, yet his crowd banter and general showmanship made him a perfect opening act. Even if I had not listened to his 2011 release Roll the Bones prior to the show his Austin sound would have won me over live. Check out his website, and if you get a chance you must see him play live.

Clear Sky Friday – Seeing Good 07/02


This past weekend may wife and I were in Melbourne, FL for a state thespian competition. Our daughter and her friends were representing La Villa School of the Arts. While it is always good to experience youth, at a variety of talent levels, courageously taking the stage, it was a conversation with my sister-in-law’s husband that evening which inspired this post.

Jimmy is a pastor at Church of the Beach, which he started on his own. While his past is grounded in Baptist and Southern Baptist theology, Jim’s approach to the faith is less about hell and more about love. The audience is a beach community, easily noted by their Sunday attire.

Conversations focusing on religion are few between myself and Jim, yet he has always been respectful of my belief system, which seems to have fostered a good relationship.

Dinner happened at a wonderful German restaurant, the Cafe Coconut Cove. During our first round of beers (there were only two) I began to discuss how gleaning served to unite people ranging between theists and non-theists. With the patience of a saint, Jim listened as my extended commentary wandered into recent studies on Christians, Agnostics and “Nones”.

When I finally stopped he shared his story of community.

Continue reading

Two Tuesday Quotes: Kennedy and Leland

There is plenty of room on this one-and-only livable planet for all cultures to co-exist on a basis of equality, mutual respect, fair-play, self-determination, and non-interference. It has to be that, or nothing.

Stetson Kennedy

The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever. … Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.

John Leland

Learn more about these men after the break.

Continue reading

Clear Sky Friday – Seeing Good 31/01

How many out there follow British/English Premier League Soccer? A few years ago, at a point when the business machine of college and professional football here in the United States was beginning to disgust me, I turned my attention across the pond. While not a life long passionate soccer fan, I am a dedicated World Cup viewer. When the Summer Olympics came to Atlanta the one ticket I had to get was a men’s soccer match, and we were doubly rewarded. We were there when Nigeria defeated Brazil on their way to Olympic gold. Upon leaving the stadium the crowd was informed that tickets still remained for the women’s gold medal match between the U.S. and China: So we grabbed two and witnessed history.

Wanting something different, while knowing that British soccer is not distinct from other sports institutions, I researched teams and decided Newcastle United would be my club. It is relatively close to where my family hails from, Fulford, and the fan base is a passionate bunch with a rich history. Deciding I also wanted to cheer for an American player I added Everton to my small pantheon being that Tim Howard is their man between the pipes.

Two weekends of Derby play saw Newcastle lose to Sunderland 0-3, making this a sweep for the season in which the Magpies were shut down 0-6.  Last week saw Everton lose their Derby match to Liverpool 0-4.

Tough week.

But it is just sports, something that is more a respite than foundation. A news story that put that in context was one the Today Show highlighted yesterday. It told the story of Sam Polk, a once greedy Wall Street success story who dropped that life because he realized it was destructive. You can read about it here.

Continue reading

Two Tuesday Quotes: Tolle and Grass

“Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.”

-Eckhart Tolle

Everybody knows how fallible memory can sometimes be. You remember certain fragments precisely, but as soon as you try to join the fragments together, for a story, there is a certain – not falsification, but a shifting.

- Gunter Grass

Learn more about these men after the break.

Continue reading

Another Winner from “Sustainable Man”



“Says the guy who has all the money he needs, right?”

“Give it all away then!”

Yeah, we could respond that way. We could choose to alienate Jim Carrey by choosing not to try to understand him and judge instead. But where will that get us? Perhaps there is another option:

“Maybe I should listen to what he has to say. After all, he does know what it is like to have all that money. Maybe money isn’t the ultimate goal after all?”

All of these reactions represent different stories. Its up to each of us to choose which story to empower for us. Which one makes you feel better?