At The Listening Room of Mobile last night (Sunday June 16) two great guys from New Orleans were the featured artists. Joe Sims and Doug Stepanek traveled to Mobile to entertain us and that is exactly what they did!
Billy Joel once said, “Musicians want to be the loud voice for so many quiet hearts”. I believe Joe and Doug were that loud voice last night at The Listening Room. They sang about love, loss and real life. They grabbed my heart with both hands and I fell in love with their music. Their voices are distinctly different, yet their harmonies were fabulous.
These guys sang 20 songs in a rapid fire pattern that never let up. I can’t even remember seeing them stop to tune or re-tune, but I am certain they did at some point. Before the show began I got more acquainted with Doug. He told me that he has been a songwriter and musician for years but is relatively new to performing vocally; still a little apprehensive about it. He told me his voice has not found its spot yet, and is a bit raspy. When the show started and it was his turn to sing…I decided Doug must have lied to me because his vocals were seasoned, controlled and strong (Complete opposite of how he described himself as a singer). Maybe he just wanted to surprise this old lady…he did just that.
When two musicians have played together for years (like Joe and Doug), they know each other’s thoughts and actions in advance. Their performance was the making of a succinct sound that blended into a smooth blanket that wrapped us all up. We felt warm, we felt at home with them.
There are love songs about the love between people, but sometimes you get to hear of a different kind of love. Certainly their love of their home city New Orleans is apparent. Joe started the show with his rendition of his love for New Orleans. In the song he mentions Cafe du Monde and the wonderful beignets. He tells of times when he is in another town when he “would rather be on Decatur Street” in New Orleans. He even mentions places like Nashville and Mobile in that song and specifically Mobile Bay (where I live). He expresses the feeling of his city calling him back home..“That Crescent City has a way of calling me.” he says…
I loved his love for his home.
Doug followed with a love song to his wife who was a beautiful brunette who sat at the front table and never took her eyes off of him all night. I noticed her singing along (silently) with him on several songs. These words are in his song to her “I’m gonna love you for the rest of my life.” (what woman amongst us wouldn’t be thrilled for their husband to express that so proudly).
Joe told us that somehow a gospel song just found its way out of him one day. It is called “Oh Lord”. His mom, who is very religious, was at a retreat and speaking to the priest when this gospel song seemed to jump out of him. At the same moment he wrote this song, she was praying for his soul! He declared to us his soul is just fine…then he sang his gospel song as Doug joined him on a tambourine, it gave the song an old southern gospel feel. He says, “Oh Lord, won’t you shine your light on me!”
There were many wonderful songs to pick from last night, and I loved them all. However, my favorite song was called “Let Go” by Joe Sims. I have said before a song’s job is to make you FEEL. It may bring out sad, painful experiences and help you recover from how you felt then, or it may take you to a place where you were the happiest…but it made you feel and did its job. “Let Go” made me feel. It was a story that sprang from the death of Joe’s father and the fact that they had a flawed relationship. It was a sorrowful song and it was sung by that little boy inside of Joe that yearned for a better relationship with his dad. That little boy was crying out in pain for what could have been but never was. I could feel it, I have lived it, I fully understood.
Not only is that song touching, the music is haunting and the harmonies were riveting. I have listened to it at least a dozen times this morning. It hurts but it is also comforting to the person who hurts from those memories that never left. Thank you so much for sharing that song.
Joe sang songs about not knowing how much more you can take; he sang songs that talk about lost loves…”when you were mine”… Doug did one about friendship through the years, said its about growing up. Joe said when he met his wife she was a bartender, he was a nurse but she was also in nursing school…they are now married, both are nurses and they have a beautiful child. He said, “This is my song about falling in love with a bartender”. It was beautiful.
The true beauty of music is that it connects us. I feel closer to so many people today because music brought us together. That was part of what Joe and Doug gave us last night. Music is the glue that holds us together when we break.
I want to say thank you to Joe Sims and Doug Stepanek of New Orleans
I want to thank Jim Pennington and The Listening Room of Mobile
I want to thank those who came to hear this powerful original music.