Radney Foster was Masterful at TLR

March 12, 2018

Saturday night, March 10 was amazing. I choose amazing as the word to describe it only because “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was harder to spell. I have been to many shows over the years and none of them top this one.


Anticipation filled my spirit every time I thought about March 10 at The Listening Room in Mobile. I knew that Eric Erdman would be playing and that Radney Foster was the main event. I knew Sarah Aili was coming and would likely join in. I never even thought about Eddie Heinzelman, though I was aware that he accompanies Radney in his shows. So Eddie was a nice addition with his extraordinary guitar picking and singing.


In the audience were many talented musicians including Melissa Summersell, Donna Hall Foster and Stan Foster and Steven Lee Veal. The place was absolutely packed that night. It was packed with musicians, it was packed with people who love music, it was packed with people who love people. This was a recipe for a wonderful show at our beloved venue The Listening Room, 78 St Francis Street in Mobile, Alabama. 


Eric Erdman, Sarah Aili and I arrived early for sound check before heading to grab a quick dinner and some coffee at Serda’s Coffee Shop. It was a feeling of great expectation that gripped us like a vice. I know I just couldn’t wait for it to begin. As the minutes ticketed off to show time, my heart beat just a little bit faster, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve.


As The Listening Room filled to capacity and many more stood outside hoping for an opportunity to get in, I felt certain something magical would happen on that stage tonight. My feeling was correct. Everyone played their part, everyone was on their game. To me it seems every heart in that room was beating to the rhythm of the music of those talented, masterful musicians and it felt so good!


The show began with Eddie Heinzelman who played songs from his new CD and entertained us with his stories that accompanied them. His final song, he explained is over 7 minutes long (which is quite long for any song), but he promised to deliver an abridged version. It was a song he had written for an art project called Trio, and it was about love. Love songs can be romantic and they can be sad, and then there are the complicated ones that tell of doubt the love existed at all. His song was about doubtful love and it was awesome. I believe in most people’s lives there is the experience of doubtful love at one point or another.


Next was Eric Erdman. He started off with a short story about loving where you are from followed by his song “If Alabama is Not Good Enough for You.” He sang a couple more including "What's Left of What Used To Be", then he called Sarah Aili up to join him in a song they wrote together (along with Shelly Riff), called “The Well”. This is one of my favorite songs, it is one of inspiration and encouragement for people who are experiencing a low time in their lives. Then Sarah sang a new song of hers called “Boundaries”, I could relate to it as most women in the room likely felt the same at one point in their lives. Every song has many interpretations just as every listener has different life experiences. But for me Boundaries is about self confidence in a woman who now knows she is strong enough to make it on her own if need be. She says you can join me or not but I will do what is best for me. To you that may sound a bit “selfish”; but it is NOT, everyone should realize that there comes a time you need to put you first.  Listen for this song “Boundaries” by Sarah Aili, to come out soon, it is great and inspirational. Sarah also sang back up vocals on Eric’s new song “Its Not Like You Don’t Know Me” his title song from his recently released CD.


Next Eric called up Donna Hall Foster to add her soulful sounds to his song “Why”, which is a happy and upbeat, New Orleans rhythm song that everyone loves to clap and sing along with.

Donna Hall Foster is …Donna Hall Foster, there is no other like her. She wears greatness well as a vocalist and as a human being!


Already there had been a great show, and the main event had not even begun! Now that is what equals a memorable evening at The Listening Room or any venue.


Radney Foster and Eddie Heinzelman took the stage and did what they do best. Radney’s second song was “Just Call Me Lonesome” when he started it I could hear a collective gasp in the room. He went on to play so many of his greatest hits and many new songs from his latest CD, “For You To See The Stars. Radney also has a new book with the same name, “For You To See The Stars”. He stole the hearts of all of us in the audience as he read excerpts from his book. The stories grabbed you with both hands and you could not get loose if you wanted to, but we didn’t want to let go. The first story was about a young boy whose father had recently taught him he could pee on the  trees in the backyard if he needed to. To this young boy, it was the greatest revelation of his lifetime, but it got him into a little trouble. I highly recommend this his new CD and his new book of short stories….”For You To See The Stars by Radney Foster.


The finale was the cherry on top of this wonderful show. It was a gathering of Eric Erdman, Sarah Aili, Radney Foster, Eddie Heizelman, Shari Smith, Stan Foster, Donna Hall Foster and Melissa Summersell. They sang a rousing song of Revival the audience clapped and sang along in appreciation of their hard work. It was a grateful audience and it was grateful musicians who could feel the love and feel the spirits soaring from everyone there. The show ended at nearly 11:30 but we could have stayed all night.


Thank You are not strong enough words to say to Jim Pennington of The Listening Room. We love what this venue has become. We love Jim for what he has created….


Juanita Smith

Music Mom



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