It was a night of sweethearts and love, February 14th, 2018
We walked into The Listening Room, 78 St Francis Street, in downtown Mobile that night. Most of downtown was quieter than normal due to Mardi Gras having ended the night before. People had partied and danced for weeks; even more so on those last three days—Joe Cain Day, Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras. Many downtown establishments traditionally close the Wednesday after Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras); to give their employees a rest and to give the partiers time to recover.
Expecting a light crowd at this show on Wednesday; when we arrived I looked around the room with many thoughts of the upcoming show and the audience that might show up to hear it.
The room filled up and those who came were eager to enjoy some good original music. The room was festive with white linen tablecloths, heart shaped dishes filled with tradition Valentines candies and pretty red candles flickering in the semi-darkness. It created a romantic, softness to the evening.
Eric Erdman sang mostly romantic, mostly sweet love-ish songs all evening. He told stories about many of the songs in an effort to explain the emotion that led to the writing. He was definitely on his game that evening.
Many friends and familiar fans were speckled in the crowd, but almost half of those who were there had never heard him before and had never visited The Listening Room before. This was surprising to us, but a good surprise! Hopefully it added to the fan base for both the artist and the venue.
It is a wonderful, almost magical thing how the attendance at this venue has grown. People are hearing about it and learning how this particular place is really growing in popularity.
It all started with one man who loves original music and who loves the musicians. Jim Pennington fully understands the plight of musicians as they struggle to make a living in this career, they often struggle just to be heard.
If you think about the live music you may have heard in restaurants, coffee shops, bowling alleys, hotel lobbies, etc; you realize the musicians get lost in the hustle and bustle. People are often ordering food and out-talking the “noise” of the musician’s performance. I have actually witnessed a person say, “Hey keep that down up there, we are trying to talk!” It is a soul-sucking, gut-wrenching process for a professional musician to have to endure.
I am not saying this is the fault of the crowd. They probably went out to eat, visit with friends, etc. they did not hire a musician nor even want to hear live music in some cases. The venue owner hires the musician to pull people in to their establishment, there is nothing wrong with that at all.
It is a dilemma for sure. No one is at fault. It is a catch 22 type of situation. It is painful for all three sides of this music coin that is tossed into the air with little understanding of the frustration it creates; leaving sometimes a bad taste for all.
For me, a place where the focus is on the music; solely on the music, is like heaven to a musician and to a music fan.
The Listening Room is a beacon in the night for the weary musicians who only want to be heard and appreciated. It is a way to recharge their spirit and lift up their hearts. The Listening Room allows them to return to the reason they play music. Bless your soul Jim Pennington for what you have created. Thank you for being so stubborn and holding on when times have been lean. Thank you for providing the light our musicians yearn for and have earned the right to see. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!