See what Hector wrote about that evening:
I'm sorry it has taken so long to give my opinions about the concert at the City Winery on September 28th, 2010. I live in Alabama and have been
fortunate enough to incorporate John's concerts into my social and business schedule in 2010. I attended homecoming at my alma mater on the 25th and 26th of September and extending my stay in the NYC area allowed me to enjoy this experience.
First, my 12-year old was mad that I didn't take her but it was a school day and life is tough when you're young. So the compromise was that I would have John and the Combo autograph a photo to her. At first this appeared to be a trivial arrangement but it ended up being harder than anticipated.
I made reservations for this concert months in advance and was lucky enough to get a front-row seat. I ate dinner at a diner around the corner before I arrived at the City Winery. The City Winery is quite a place; nice tables and the patrons and service were absolutely great. The place was packed and there wasn't much standing room either. I was seated with three other New Yorkers and we all became instant friends, all fans of John Hiatt. You can't get this kind of genuine honesty in the Southeast US.
The stage at the City Winery is tiny. I was wondering where the Combo was going to be "stuffed". The show opened with the lovely and talented Holly Williams. She has an amazing voice and her mom joined her in singing one of the songs. They were amazing.
John gave a solo performance that evening. It was one of the most amazing one-man performances I have ever witnessed. He played Perfectly Good Guitar early in the show and whistled the electric guitar part. He WHISTLED the electric guitar part! At first I wasn't buying it, but by the end of the song I was a believer! Similarly he performed Riding With The King, Drive South, Slow Turning, Like a Freight Train, Angel Eyes, etc. all in one-man fashion, substituting a harmonica, whistle, and tapping the soundboard to substitute for the Combo. It was truly amazing that there could be that much music bursting out of one man! Of course, John is a master at working a crowd, sharing that has a "fat back" and dedicating a song to "Ken", an audience member that kept wanting him to perform one particular song. As a matter of fact, the audience kept wanting John to perform a bunch of songs that he had not planned on performing, and he reminded all of us that it wasn't "request night". The concert finished with a two-song encore, one of which was Have a Little Faith.
What was really heartening is that native New Yorkers know talent and appreciate it. As I said, it was a sold out show. I think the folks at our table and at least two other adjacent tables also were keenly aware of John's amazing musical career and songs in which we have luxuriated over the last four decades. Some people reminisced about the Goners and Queens, and one guy even mentioned some other Hiatt touring bands I wasn't aware of. He's had quite an impressive life and his music reflects as much.
He wasn't signing autographs that night, so I thought the autograph for my kid was a lost cause. I asked my waitress and she said that John's bus was outside, waiting for his gear to be loaded before he left. I ran outside and there were about five fans waiting to see if he'd come out and talk to us. He did in fact come out after I tapped the window on his bus a couple times, and he asked "what you got there brother?" I showed him the photo of him and his daughter Lilly performing at SXSW, and he was a bit humbled. He signed it "Riley, Dreams come true. John Hiatt". I thanked him for being so gracious. We made some small talk, but others were waiting for their chance to thank him for a great show.
Besides John and his amazing talent, what made this experience especially memorable were the folks that work at the City Winery. They were friendly and hospitable. Also, the patrons knew talent and history in the making, which is what we all experienced that night. We are blessed to be alive at this time, to experience these performances live. Nothing beats a live performance from John Hiatt. Thank you John!
PS My kid loved the autographed photo, but she wants to go to a summer show next year.
Hector Olague, Sep 2010