Last night we (wifey and friends) were lucky to be a part of another fabulous, intimate night of music and storytelling--a house concert featuring the multi-talented Francis Dunnery.
Our creative friends Tommy and Breann Neal hosted a similar show a little over a year ago, so we HAD to come back again, because folks, this is one very unique experience.
Some know Francis through his formative rock star years as the leader of It Bites or maybe you remember him on tour playing guitar with Robert Plant. But I know Francis best by his mid-90s stellar acoustic-pop solo album, Tall Blonde Helicopter.
This is a record Cathy and I have played and played and played--on long vacation drives, on the way to work, on the home stereo, at parties, and even nowadays on the iPod. And then we hear that Francis is coming once again to Gridley, Illinois (of all places in the world) to do a show featuring Tall Blonde Helicopter, one of our all-time favorite albums??? Sign me up please, and one for my wife too, and Ed, and does Kurt know about it? How about Steve? Tony? Rick?
Before I go any further, I just have to say that you HAVE to try to get him to your neighborhood, and here's how: Fill out an invitation form.
Francis has been doing these shows now for several years, typically for audiences of around 35 people. He enters the room with only an acoustic guitar, weaving together these wonderful songs, hilarious stories, and provocative lessons about life. He's an effortless storyteller and comedian, an amazing songwriter, a gifted guitarist, a well-read philosopher and astrologist, a warm and humble soul, and within seconds you are transported to another place.
One of the great gifts of this particular show was hearing the detailed stories behind all of these songs we know so well. Getting to hear them from a new perspective added a new depth to the music.
Only New York Going On took us to an empty New York apartment that Francis moved into after leaving his wife. The Way Things Are sent us to a Nashville hotel bathroom, peering into a mirror, terrorized at the sight of his newly shaved head, the loss of his long blonde hair--signaling a new, unknown life ahead of him. Immaculate delivered us to an AA meeting in LA, exchanging mind-expanding books with recovering alcoholics, realizing the freedom of living in the present and the power of bringing about what we think about. Heavy duty, yes, but isn't life heavy duty a good part of the time?
And we pretty much laughed through the whole thing because he's so damn funny. Plus he played our favorite songs, like Too Much Saturn, In My Dreams, and Sunshine.
In the final stanzas of I Believe I Can Change My World, Francis does a bit of shout-sing mantra: I believe I can change my world! I believe I can change my world! I believe I can change my world! And this is one of the great things I walked away with, and I'm carrying it around with me at this very moment.
Francis is, in fact, changing the world, one house at a time. Francis, Erica, Tom, Breann, and everyone else that was there, thank you for an incredible evening.