Willie Sugarcapps at Eddie’s Attic, Decatur, GA
My husband Pat is a bona fide Willie Sugarcapps groupie. I blame myself. A decade ago, I encouraged him to see some live music and get away from the TV. We started slowly, maybe a few shows a year. Now, we go to a show every time we have a free weekend. His enthusiasm for live music has definitely grown over the years, especially since we moved away from 10,000 seat arenas and planted ourselves firmly near the stages of small venues all over Seattle.
Willie Sugarcapps, a band that sprouted organically down in the muddy waters of Lower Alabama, is garnering some national attention. Their self-titled debut album is hitting the Americana charts and showed up on many must-have lists of 2013, including #7 on No Depression’s Top 50 of 2013. Their song “Gypsy Train” landed a spot on the Grammy consideration list. Every song on the album is a jewel, and each member is given an opportunity to shine.
Will Kimbrough, singer-songwriter and founding member of Willie Sugarcapps, toured the Northwest as a solo artist in January and also played songs from the Willie Sugarcapps album at his shows. My husband and I were honored to be a part of his road crew. It was definitely a highlight of my life, driving hundreds of miles up and down Washington State and spending quality time with one of my musical heroes.
Kimbrough’s excellent solo album, Sideshow Love is also getting respect on the AMA charts and moved up to #31 this week. The album will be officially released on February 14–a fitting day for this collection of love and lust. Join him at Nashville’s Basement for the party. When he’s not touring solo, he’s playing with Willie Sugarcapps, mostly in the Southern states, and keeping close to home.
Back to my groupie husband…
Pat flew to Alabama on business last Friday and called me on Saturday, February 1, the day after he arrived. I could hear traffic noise and chatter in the background, and knew he was driving somewhere with his work buddy Gary.
“Guess where we’re going?” he asked, in a teasing manner. It was Twenty Questions time.
“I dunno,” I said, in my bored voice, “BBQ? Chick Fil-A? White Castle?” No to all three.
“We’re going to Decatur, Georgia!” he exclaimed. I could hear the excitement in his loud voice. My heart skipped a beat, but I kept a nonchalant attitude.
“Oh? And why are you going to Decatur, Georgia?”
“We rented a car, a hotel room, and we bought tickets to see Willie Sugarcapps at Eddie’s Attic tonight!”
“Holy Crap!” I yelled. “You are officially a bigger groupie than I am! I cannot believe you’re driving to Decatur!”
Decatur, a suburb outside of Atlanta, was about 200 miles away from Huntsville–almost a four-hour drive. They just spent all day flying to Alabama via Atlanta the day before. Well, they didn’t have anything else to do today, so why not?
I asked Pat if Will knew they were coming.
“NO! And don’t say a word to him or post anything on Facebook. I want to surprise him.”
They still had a couple of hours driving ahead of them, but I told him to check in with me once in a while. Meanwhile, I was on pins and needles waiting to hear if they made it to the show and if they surprised Will. I took a walk, wrote a couple of emails and washed the dishes. Purple dish gloves on, hands on hips. Hurry up, already.
Finally, I received a text: “So sorry you missed this! Playing Mr. Lee.” Later, “Oh, Colorado! Two words: Holy Sh*t!!!!!”
My husband never gets overly excited. Is not in his quiet nature to exclaim anything, unless maybe while watching a closely matched football game, but certainly not at a concert. Even at The Troubadour, where we were so lucky to see Tom Petty, Pat only smiled and nodded once in a while; he let me do the screaming and cussing. For him to frantically text me during the show (which is a no-no, by the way, but I let it pass this time since I had to live vicariously), I could only imagine how magical the Willie Sugarcapps show must have been.
After about a half hour into the performance, Pat stepped outside and called me. He gushed and repeated, “Oh, Lisa, I’m so sorry you’re missing this. Oh, my god, they’re so amazing! Their harmonies and solos are just perfect. Everyone is blown away. It’s the best show I’ve ever seen–better than Tom Petty! It’s such a small theater, the acoustics are incredible, and it’s packed with people!”
On and on he spouted. I could only listen with tears in my eyes, so happy he was having such a moving experience. I thought back to a decade ago when he had little interest in seeing live music. And now, he’s become “One Of Us”.
He also mentioned that they surprised Will. Pat walked right up to him before the show, just like he imagined. Will turned around, and with a perplexed and surprised look said, “Pat?!” and proceeded to give Pat a big hug. Awesome. Pat, the stalker-groupie.
The video of “Mr. Lee” at Eddie’s Attic does not compare to the enchanting experience of the live show; but at least it paints a picture of some of the magic moments, like when Corky Hughes goes crazy on that lap steel and when Will shreds on his mandolin. I could tell they were having a fantastic time together. I grieved that I wasn’t there, but was so happy that Pat and Gary made the trip.
Pat also said he spoke with Brigitte DeMeyer, with whom Will has collaborated. She opened the show, and Pat was very impressed by her sultry voice. She later gave Pat and Gary a CD for helping her walk to her car. I can’t wait to hear it.
Later, I told Will how moved Pat was by the show, and how there is something magical about that band.
“Atlanta, in particular, felt like a step up and forward for WSC,” said Will. “The band is just trying to survive growing pains—mainly, that people want to hear us but we can’t really afford to go play for them. I feel like if we could get out and hit all the cities, 2015 would be a big festival year for us. But you know what? It will happen in its own time. This is no longer the world where you get record company backing when you have a great band. You do it yourself as best you can. You do Kickstarter, or whatever, and you try to step it up a notch. I’m ok with things going along and going well.”
In other words, don’t expect a sweeping national tour anytime soon. If you do have a chance to see Willie Sugarcapps or any of the members of this band, please go and support them. Become a groupie. Check the flight schedules and plan a vacation around their show. Go spend some family time in beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama and run over to see them play at The Frog Pond in Silverhill. You will not regret it. In the meantime, be sure to pick up their self-titled album and a buy a few for your friends.
Photo Credit (Top): Catt Sirten