I really would have liked to have seen that concert of his in Plant City. I know we weren’t on speaking terms with him at that point, with us having paid so much money and being forced to release his material on a tight schedule after we had hoped to be able to keep it private and release it bit by bit for the most profit and attention for us, but mostly it was because we were all struggling at that point to do anything else. The rap group we had ended up recording their second album without #N/A and it was a total flop. No one wanted to think of them as hardcore, and the pop audience wasn’t interested in them after they had rejected the one person who was willing to give them some good pop hooks. And no one else was going to perform with them either given the way they had bad-mouthed someone everyone agrees was a good guy. So yeah, we weren’t really interested in what he was doing, but looking back on it, it would have been really great to have watched that concert and to have cheered him on as he was looking for his own new start, one that would be a lot more successful than what anyone else at the label was doing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be able to perform before you all here today. As you all hopefully know, this is the first concert of two that will be held this afternoon and evening, and today we would like to focus on country songs. I grew up not too far away from here just outside of Plant City, where I went to school at Cork Elementary and Lincoln and Marshall and Tomlin before my family moved to East Tampa when I was in my freshman year at the King IB program. I don’t want to bore you all with a story of my personal life, because you came here to listen to some music. I grew up listening to a lot of country songs and I would like to begin today by singing a couple of my favorite songs from when I was growing up here.
[The crowd cheers.]
I’d like to begin with some Alabama. “I’m In A Hurry And Don’t Know Why.”
[The crowd cheers again and when the cheers die down the band plays a rapid and passionate performance of the song, and there is more cheering after it is over.]
This was really fun. Now I’d like to play a song you all might not know as well. Here is “When She Cries” by Restless Heart.
[The band plays the romantic ballad well and there is a lot of cheering at the end of it.]
Thank you all. You’re a great audience. I’d like to sing one more song from when I was growing up, a song that still reminds me of Florida no matter where I have traveled.
[He sings “Seminole Wind” with the band and the audience sings along with him and cheers when he is done.]
That was a great John Anderson song and I hope I was able to do it justice. [There are cheers.] I’d like to sing some of my original songs, now. I don’t expect you to know the lyrics of these ones since they haven’t been released yet, but I hope you appreciate them, as they will be available to you all before too long. I’ve been working with these wonderful musicians here on recording an album about my experiences in moving around and trying to find home and somewhere I belong, so I hope you’re able to appreciate some of these songs. I’d like to begin with a couple of songs about where I was born. I was born just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where my father was a dairy farmer and bus driver, and the family farm was in a beautiful green valley just outside of a small town called Irwin. Here’s “In A Green Valley (Miller’s Crossroads).”
[He and the band sing, and the audience listens attentively and cheers when it’s done.]
Next I’d like to sing a song I have called “The McKeesport Polka,” to which I wrote the lyrics to the music of a song I played in orchestra as a kid called Tango Avila.
[He and the band sing, and we get to see the singer play the viola like a fiddle, and the audience cheers at this.]
Thank you all again. As I said, I grew up here outside of Plant City, and I wrote a few songs for this upcoming album that are about that experience. [The crowd erupts in cheers.] Here is “Backroads Biker.” After that I will be singing “Strawberry Blonde.”
[He and the band sing those two songs and the audience cheers politely, curious and thinking about what the songs have to say.]
When I was a teenager I moved to Tampa and stayed there through the end of high school. I’d like to sing a couple of songs about that experience. First up is “Somewhere Far Away From Here,” and after that comes “Follows You Around.”
[He sings the two songs, and the audience cheers after each of the songs is done while he smiles at the audience.]
After I finished high school, I moved to Southern California, and as might be imagined, there were some funny moments there. I found that even if the people back home didn’t think of me as a particularly rednecky sort of person, that people in the area would do things like send me memes from Deliverance like the “Dueling Banjos” song whenever we had a political disagreement, as if coming from Florida meant that one’s opinion was invalid. [The audience boos.] I didn’t agree with it either. Anyway, I’d like to sing three songs inspired by the experience. The first one is called, “Southern Man,”
[The audience erupts in cheers, after which the band performs the song, and once again we see the singer play his viola like a fiddle, and the cheering continues long after the song is done.]
Thank you all. Now I’d like to sing “We Will Not Be Bullied,” a song about an experience I had when I was in college and my neighbors tried to bully my roommate and I for voting Republican in the 2000 Election.
[The audience cheers again and the band plays the song, and there is more prolonged cheering.]
Now I’d like to sing a song a bit more lighthearted, a song called “SoCal Anthem,” about my time in college, and playing along with me will be the C. Leon King High School Marching Band.
[The audience cheers as he sings the lighthearted song with the backup from the marching band.]
When I was performing this song in the studio with the University of Southern California Marching Band, we also recorded a couple of other songs. Do you want to hear those now with the marching band here?
[The audience cheers and yells out “Yes,” “We do,” and other comments that are seen on the video.]
Alright, here is a medley of two songs. First is going to be the complete four verse version of the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, so if you would all please stand we will sing that for you. After that, you can all sit down, if you wish, and we will sing a song called “Freedom.”
[The audience stands up and sings along with the first verse of the national anthem as the band and the marching band play, and then the audience cheers as he follows that immediately with “Freedom,” after which the audience cheers loudly and passionately.]
You’re a great audience. When I lived in Southern California I still kept up with country, and I was pleased that during my time there I found a great George Strait song that really stuck with me. Here’s “Living And Living Well.”
[The audience cheers, and then sings along with him as he performs, and he even has the crowd sing the second to last chorus by themselves before coming in for the final chorus along with them. The audience cheers for a while.]
That’s a great song. Now I’d like to sing a duet with the lovely young lady who opened the concert today. For the last few weeks we’ve been writing some material for her debut album and we’d like to sing a couple of those songs for you all. [The audience cheers.] First, we’d like to sing, “Make The Rain Go Away.”
[The two of them sing the touching ballad, with a lot of chemistry between them, and the audience cheers them enthusiastically.]
I think we may have just found the first single to the album. [The audience cheers.] Next, I’d like to sing, “My Old Man.”
[They sing “My Old Man,” and the audience cheers and enjoys the song. The singers give each other a hug and a kiss on each cheek and return to their usual places.
My time here is nearly done, but I would like to sing a couple more songs for you from my upcoming album. One of the songs is about my time in a seminary, and it’s called, “Walking With God.”
[The crowd cheers and the band plays the song, after which there is considerable applause.]
Now I’d like to sing a song about my time in Thailand. It’s called, “We Want The Same Thing.”
[He sings the song and the audience cheers him along, pleased by the populist touch.]
Finally, I’d like to sing a song about my time in Portland, and it’s called “Lynch Mob Anthem.”
[He sings the song and the audience cheers and jeers at the appropriate times as he sings.]
Thank you all, you’ve been a great audience.
[He waves at them and bows and walks off the stage along with the rest of the band. After a good solid couple minutes of cheering he and the band walk back out.]
You want some more?
[The audience cheers even louder.]
Let’s play a couple of songs that you know then. Here are my two last singles, “Ceteris Peribus” and “Status Quo Antebellum.”
[The audience cheers even louder, after which he and the band play a rousing live performance of their two hits. The audience cheers happily.]
I’d like to end this concert properly with another song that reminds me of my childhood. The words of this song are taken from a novel I read as a child, “Across Five Aprils,” and the song is called “Seven Stars.”
[He sings the song “Seven Stars” and the audience cheers when he’s done, after which he and the band bow and wave and head off. The audience cheers for several minutes but there is no second encore.]
Greetings all, this is the second concert of the day, and I hope you don’t mind if I drink some water because my voice is a little bit tired after having sung earlier today. I’m definitely not used to this. [The audience laughs along with him.] I won’t be singing any of the songs I sung earlier today here, so you’ll have to wait until the life cd/dvd comes out to see that unless you were fortunate enough to have tickets for the earlier show as well. [A few of the people in the audience cheer.] Well, those of you who stayed here from earlier, I hope I give you all a great show. As for the rest of you, tonight I will be focusing more on my pop songs than on the country or Americana songs I focused on earlier. I’d like to begin today by performing my entire debut album in its entirety. That way you all get to hear “Beside Me” early on and don’t have to beg me to hear it later. [The audience laughs and cheers some more.] Alright, so without any further ado, here is my debut album in order. The songs are as follows: “Road Outside Portland,” “Why Do They Always Run?” “Broken,” “High Anxiety,” “Let Me In,” “If These Are The Good Times,” “You Don’t See Me,” “The Hounds Of Winter,” “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me,” “Beside Me,” and “Dark Night Of The Soul.” I would like to give a few notes about the songs. “You Don’t See Me” is the cover of a great song by the British band Keane and “The Hounds Of Winter” is a classic song by Sting from his Mercury Falling album. Also, two of the songs will feature duet parts with this lovely young woman here, who will be singing duet parts on “Let Me In” and “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me.”
[The audience cheers loudly and he and the band perform all of the songs in rousing renditions. With “Beside Me,” the audience sings along, as it is the only song from his debut album that most of them know. Some of the audience members clearly have listened to the album in its entirety a few times and sing along with the remaining songs.]
I wanted to get all of those songs out at once because I’m an anxious person and it’s tough to sing all these songs about anxiety and struggling with intimacy with others in a situation like this where as a singer I am surrounded by some great musicians and in front of a great audience. It’s easy to feel loved in such a place, but when one is by oneself writing songs in isolation it’s a lot harder to feel the same way. I’d like to sing a couple of songs from my “Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes” album now. First, I’d like to sing “Agnus Dei,” a beautiful Christian song I heard when I was a young adult and have wanted to record myself for a long time. After that I’m going to sing “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” and the title track for you all.
[There is some cheering and he and the band perform the three songs happily, with some audience members singing along to the first song and fewer to the other two, which are less familiar to them, as the album had been leaked but not officially released yet.]
After my debut album, I recorded a bunch of songs for a proper follow up album that dealt more with the issues of anxiety and the difficulty people like me have of relaxing and of coping with the ordinary stresses of social life. So I’d like to sing a couple of those songs for you all here today as well. The first one is going to feature the C. Leon King High School Marching Band, which was pretty busy in my first concert. We’re going to sing, “Ballad Of The Grumps.” After that I’m doing to sing “The Centre Cannot Hold,” whose words are taken from a poem by W. H. Auden. And then after that I am going to give a spoken word version of a poem I wrote after a particularly bad night of sleep called “The Lonely Hour.”
[The audience cheers and he performs the three songs, none of which are familiar to most of the audience, after which there are a lot of cheers.]
Thank you all. You’ve been a wonderful audience tonight.
[He and the band bow and leave the stage. The audience cheers for one or two minutes, which leads him and the band to come back on stage, after which the cheering gets even louder.]
You don’t want to go home yet?
[The audience yells out now.]
Alright, let’s give you a few more songs to send you home with so that you can make sure you got your money’s worth.
[The audience cheers loudly.]
It’s not always cool to say so, but I’m a big fan of Bryan Adams, so I’d like to sing you all one of his songs tonight, if you don’t mind. It’s called “Straight From The Heart.”
[The audience cheers and he covers the song, which the audience sings along with passionately as well.]
This is only the second time I’ve had a big live concert experience like this, other than this afternoon of course. The first time was when I sang in support of compassion for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I’d like to sing a couple of the songs from that particular concert for you all today as well. First we’re going to perform “Dream” originally by Forest For The Trees, and then we’re going to perform “Simone,” originally by Donna Lewis.
[He sings the two songs, which the audience sings along with, being pretty familiar with both of those songs as well, since they had likely heard the album and watched the concert.]
And now I’d like to finish this concert with another song by an artist I really love and respect. Here’s Goodnight, My Angel, from Billy Joel.
[He sings the song with a great deal of emotion, after which he bows and waves and leads the band off of the stage.]