“Making Waves Showcase” by Rhonda Huete
THE STARS OF THE EVENING were the two guys in the middle of the lineup.
They are seasoned musicians from New Orleans.
Two very skilled guitarists and One was an excellent songwriter.
Joe Sims and Doug Stepanek stood out like a beacon on a dark stormy night. When these two took the stage with their GREATNESS, it was instant change of the mood in that room. I watched from my perch in the back of the room and saw everyone sit up a little straighter, everyone immediately knew we were about to be ENTERTAINED…and this was so right.
Joe has it all. He is good with his audience. I felt like he was an old friend; he warmed my heart instantly. The fact that he was also adorable did not hurt either.
One thing that grabbed me when I first stepped over and introduced myself was his warmth. He was so easy to talk to. When he took the stage he explained that he and his wife are nurses….nurses are my favorite people on earth. He is from New Orleans and he and Doug have played there together for many years. Doug often plays bass but tonight both men were playing guitars.
This man is personable, he is a skilled guitarist, and the cherry on top—he knows how to craft a song. His words hold you close and tell you a story. He is not a sloppy songwriter that just slings his words together; he gives his writing thought. He thinks about what his message will be and he delivers it with passion. How could we ask for more?
His first song of the night told the story of his love for New Orleans, and particularly the privilege to sing in such a place. (it made me realize he does not take that privilege lightly.) He spoke of other towns in the song…”its nice in Memphis, with the blues and Beale Street, but “give me a poboy and a cup of gumbo”…”just another day in New Orleans.”
I am a person who loves well-crafted songs….I believe a song has the responsibility to make you FEEL. It should make you laugh, or make you cry, or it should present something that makes you ask yourself WHY.
Joe Sims’ songs met this responsibility and did an excellent job every single time. They touched your heart, they brought you into them like a huge magnet…and you wanted to be there. I just don’t see how anyone could expect more from a songwriter than this wonderful man delivered.
Then there was Joe Sims’ song called “Runaway Girl”…he said, “run away girl from the ties that bind, I’m here doing just fine without you…I used to love you so much, now you’re just a bad memory." ….this song goes on to tell the story of a man that is through with a relationship and turning to the future without her, and he is not looking back.
Joe told of losing two friends to substance abuse and the pain that comes with that…this song says: “Life ain’t always what it seems, wish I could just wake up from this dream”…”now you are singing in the choir behind those pearly gates”…..
“Heaven gained an angel when I lost a friend”…..”I know he is in a better place”…(he beckons) “open up your soul and let the sun shine in….talk to me my friends”
This song grabbed me and it was a story that is very familiar to so many of us today. He said briefly after the song, “if they would just talk to someone…talk to me….it would let them know they are not alone”
One of my favorite songs written by my musician son, Eric Erdman is about the same subject. It is called “The Well”
If only there was a way to get someone to stop and talk openly about their addiction. No matter how close they are, no matter how close you were before the addiction, they are difficult to reason with when that drug is coursing through their veins. It is near impossible…oh but only if you could get through to them and have them understand they matter and we care. This is my thought on the subject and this is the message Joe Sims delivered and he did it masterfully.
I have to say, I feel like I found a treasure in Joe Sims and Doug Stepanek last night at The Listening Room. It certainly made driving downtown in the rain worth the trek. I can see me following these two guys in the future.
Joe and Doug are among the best I have heard and trust me, I have heard thousands.
I suggest you check them out and listen to their music.
Thank you Jim Pennington and The Listening Room
Thank you Joe Sims and Doug Stepanek for making my day
Thank you to the audience that was quiet and respectful every moment of the show