(April 5, 2012) Since I’m launching a new website about my self-published books, poetry and blog, I thought I’d head down to Cornucopia, here in town (Valpo), so I could join in on OPEN MIC night.  I got some flyers ready about my website and grabbed my book Autoimmunity Counterattack-A Sequel, the ones with my bicycle touring poems in it, and headed out around seven p.m.  I’d been there once before after I moved to town because getting bold and reciting a few poems publicly got placed on my “bucket list” or “live now” list, as I like to call it.

I expected a small crowd, a simple night of inspiration, perhaps making contact with a few creative souls out there in the world like I did last time.  O.M.G.!  What I got was an unbelievable front row seat to one of the most incredible, mesmerizing, talented musical shows I’ve ever seen and heard in my life.  Truly, that’s what I got!  “VALPO’S GOT TALENT!” Indeed!  I already knew that from a church talent show we put on here in town a little while back:  singers, piano players, a dynamite soulful harmonica player, kid actors and dancers.  I loved it.

This night of inspiration just reaffirmed how much talent there is right here in Valpo, Indiana where I live.  We’ve got playhouses too that I still have to make it to. I don’t have to go Chicago, Hollywood, Nashville, New York, or anywhere else to be ultimately inspired or entertained. Nope, all I have to do in order to enjoy a showcase of musicians, singers and songwriters is drive my car about two tenths of a mile down the road to the Coffeehouse Cornucopia.  As I sat there I thought, this is beautiful, awesome. A poem started forming in my head right then and there, thinking I just have to write a tribute or “Ode to Coffeehouses in America.” The tradition: beverages, musicians, creative souls mingling, performing, it’s all still alive and well in America. How great is that?

Let me share some of the amazing talent.  I was glad I didn’t have to go first.  A duet, male and female team did that.  Oldies but goodies.  He played the guitar, they both sang, and I went back in time because I’m old, kind of, and I knew every song.  Such harmony. It really set the mood.      The crowd began to grow and I sipped on a Coke while hoping my throat stayed moist and ready.  All went well.  I think there were some bicycle enthusiasts and poets in the audience.  Nothing like appreciation, acceptance and a sense of belonging.  Then, the talent just kept on coming.       John, I believe he said he was local. We had chatted a bit before the night all began.  He got up and sang about pizza, a song he wrote for his daughter, his days back in high school in Oklahoma.  Then oddly enough, lyrics about how people don’t like his songs sometimes, but we all certainly reassured him that we sure did, his voice, his acoustic guitar playing and lyrics. We liked it all.  I sensed he is a true storyteller.

I might miss somebody, but I’m doing my best here.  I really didn’t plan on taking on the role of writer/reporter, but I just had to borrow a pen and capture this awesome night of musical magic.  Katie, from Chesterton, took the stage with her guitar and majestic voice and absolutely blew me away.  Seriously.  I want her album, right now!  We talked a little afterwards and I told her, “You do not belong here.  No, you belong in Hollywood or somewhere so your stardom can emerge as it should.”  I told her to hang onto her dreams.  She said she’s been singing all her life.  What a remarkable voice. I hope she gets to share it with the world someday.

We were treated to an out of towner too, Andy, from Seattle, I’m pretty sure.  Just passing through and happened to have his hammered dulcimer on hand.  So unique, such beautiful musicality.  I could have listened to his creative magic all night long.      Then, it happened.  I’m sitting there drinking Coke, right, so it’s about time for a bathroom break, but I can’t leave, because I couldn’t miss anything.  This guy takes the stage, a thin tall young man (well 28 years old as informed later), with guitar in hand, spiked dark hair. He started to play and sing with such overwhelming passion and a beauty of a voice.  Jordan strummed, he rocked that small stage like crazy.  You know how you think about seeing someone and it pops into your head, “A Star is Born,” well that’s what popped into my head and heart right then and there. (The X-factor, you might say, he’s got it.)

On stage, the passion just exploded from this musical artist. Sure enough, when I asked if he’d tell me a little about himself, so I could include it on my blog, write-up of the enchanted evening, he explained that he had just signed on with 7 Spin Music, here in Valpo, to record his debut album. So he’s a new Valpo resident, came from South Carolina, but he was born in Arkansas. Many of his songs were just written “about a week ago.”

Also he shared that it was his brother who got the guitar for Christmas when he was younger and Jordan would play hooky from school so he could sneak and begin his guitar practice.    I’m thinking to myself, what an interesting, talented guy. Yes sir, a star is being born, I’m sure of it, right here in Valpo, Indiana.  I couldn’t even start writing this blog when I got home because I had to spend the first hour learning about him and listening to some of his amazing music and lyrics.  The strange thing about Jordan, Embers of Brave, he rocked, I mean really rocked the Cornucopia Coffeehouse when he performed, but I didn’t catch it the first time around.  His lyrics, they are of a spiritual nature.  He’s a Christian Rock singer/songwriter.  I felt embarrassed that I had no idea of where Embers of Brave originated.  He clued me in, a proverb from The Book of Job.

I made sure I e-mailed him and let him know about the Pulse Christian Rock Music Festival every year here in South Bend, Indiana, because I’d love to see him perform there in the summer.  So check him out on my facebook timeline or on youtube.  And be sure to watch for this rising star. One more tidbit about this musician.  He was born legally deaf in one ear, the left I believe.  He says it still bothers him somewhat, but he manages. “Thank God,” as he professed.  Jordon thanks God for everything, by the way.  So do I. We have that in common with a lot of people. (Listen and enjoy at  Embers of Brave-A New Chapter Video Diary.)

The magic did not end there, believe me.  Another unique musical artist took the stage.  I could not listen fast enough to follow his fingers making jazzy music on that guitar of his.  All instrumental, upbeat, kind of like a blue grass, jazzy, folksy, I don’t know what you’d call it, sound. All I know is I loved it and everyone else did too. He won the contest for the night!  He was kind enough too to answer a few questions for me.  So we stood there and I questioned him, while Kyle, (K. Douglas, his performer’s name), gave me such interesting answers and information about himself, the musician. Apparently, he had taken some lessons for about a year in time, but it wasn’t giving him what he needed, so he just persevered and taught himself.  He paid tribute to Jimi Hendrix for the inspiration he felt at eleven years old and to his mom for making sure he never gave up.  I asked what kind of music it is and he said he thinks of it as “Swing.”  Like I said, it’s so unique.  But his musical fingers, truly, must be the fastest guitar playing fingers in the Midwest, maybe the world!

Then he got philosophical on me too.  Shared his feelings, his message, that we, as a society, pay way too much time embracing commercial musicians, rather than true talent.  We talked about Adele, how unique and special she is and how long it took for her to be appreciated.  I told him the only thing missing from the unforgettable night was a saxophone and he agreed, again, expressing the need for a return to true talent like Louis Armstrong and all of the other past legends and newcomers to the music world who truly deserve recognition.  K. Douglas, yes indeed, another amazing talent! Watch for this rising star too, because I’m sure he’s right, when he says he’s going to persevere and make a music career for himself.  I’m sure we will be enjoying his exceptionally gifted music someday.  Right here and now, if he keeps showing up at Cornucopia. Oh yeah, can’t forget to mention the fancy French tatoo on his right arm, classy Kyle. (Listen and enjoy at Kyle Douglas Live 2/16/12 Art Gallery Hammond, Indiana.)

I almost forgot that intriguing trio.  (Sometimes I do forget things or get something wrong here and there.  At times I can even be known as “the blooper writer.”  So just forgive me if I get anything wrong here. Okay?)  So, the trio.  Derek rocked on the bongo or “djembe bongo drum” as he informed me.  Said he couldn’t haul around drums, so this is the next best thing and he sure is good at playing it. Plays other instruments too! Darrin accompanied the band with his awesome electric guitar touch.  Then of course, to make the band complete, Colin with his vocals, another one, I couldn’t believe the talent.  I loved his voice and guitar playing.   Just loved it.

Derek and I had some fun just before leaving.  I told him I grew up playing the drums.  I just had to borrow his “bongo” and play Wipe-Out.  Then he chimed in and of course did it almost as good as me.  (Just kidding.)      I sat there thoroughly excited and entertained for the whole enchanted evening.  Throughout the musical show I was privy too, Caleb did a fine job of introducing performers and welcoming everyone, including me.

The finale, a twosome, all instrumental, charming, harmonizing guitar music by Blind Melon Yoder and Otis, local performers who managed perfect harmony.  I loved the rendition of “Paper Moon.”      I’ve never met the owner of the Coffeehouse, maybe someday.  But in the meantime, I’d just like to say, keep up the good work.  It’s so refreshing and important for creative people to have somewhere to go in order to share their work.  So thanks! And to all of the amazing musicians I met, Rock On!  Live your dreams, because you sure do deserve it.

Embers Of Brave – A New Chapter (Video Diary)

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