IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:
US Tour Day 152: Atlanta
I played Friday night at The Bridgetown, an upstairs bar conveniently situated directly adjacent to the downtown hotel Inga had rented us. The Bridgetown crowd was so receptive that night. I was surprised at how short the sets were, though. I've been used to getting 15 minutes of stage time to do my thing. The Bridgetown told me I had only five minutes to play! I shared the stage with rappers, poets, and a capella vocalists.
I would've never guessed the people there would have been they ways they were. First of all, just about everyone but me was black. I was one of three white people in the packed out venue and the only non–black to cross the stage.
Next, everyone there was stunningly good–looking. It was like everyone fell out of the gorgeous tree and hit every single branch on the way down. Then they climbed back up the tree and had another go at it just to be sure. The men had beautiful smooth skin, dark hair, and warm, wide smiles. The women ranged from waif–like to round, with angelic faces and elegant coiffures.
Everyone made eye contact with me and smiled and welcomed me, shaking my hand and asking me what I was doing with my life. Their sincerity and friendliness only underscored their outward beauty.
Every other artist performed music that really spoke to about the African–American condition—directly or indirectly. I felt as if I'd stumbled into a secret garden, one where whites were welcome yet never actually visited. And welcomed was the most appropriate word. I felt more welcomed in that room than I've felt in any other venue I'd ever played.
The beat poets and rappers were talented. Like, really talented. I've had the honor of sharing the mic with some good singers and players in my day. But, these men and women were just more raw, more real, more sincere. Their words rang so much louder because of their deep truth.
At one point I was feeling a little nervous because my music was so different from the songs the many gorgeous black voices (voices much better than mine) sang to the hungry crowd. I mentioned my nervousness to another singer and he said to me, "Man, don't you worry about a thing. We are going to show you much love here tonight. I'm telling you, much love."
He couldn't have been more right. I played what I thought to be a passionate acoustic version of No Truth Anymore and the crowd went wild, responding with loud clapping and cheers that put my last dozen audiences to shame.
After my one song set I was greeted by enthusiastic, smiling congratulations and handshakes and compliments from bright eyes and soothing, friendly voices. Inga and I looked at each other, sending silent messages to each other with our eyes. We said no words, but the meaning was clear: We were dumbfounded by the kindness and warmth of Atlanta. If I wasn't in love with the people of Atlanta, I was at least infatuated.
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