Saturday, 29 September: I had sent an email out to everyone I could think of that Marc Broussard was coming to play a free show on base. The show was supposed to be outside, but it rained all day, so they moved it to the movie theater. We were practically skipping towards the theater at 4:45, worried we wouldn’t get a good seat. Some MWR organizers were milling about outside and greeted us a little too enthusiastically, “Hey! You folks here for the show?”

We were the first ones there. To my mounting panic, there were never more than 27 of us. I kept cursing the entire base for being a bunch of morons and not coming out to see Marc Broussard. You know why, of course: I was afraid Marc wouldn’t feel much like putting all his energy into a show for 27 people. Later we figured out that, of the 27, about half of the people were Navy Musician Mates. Some were family members of Braddigan’s band (including a baby so cute it made my cheeks ache, and who had little foamy ear plugs put in before the show). There were as many sound guys and assorted crew as there were audience members. We had convinced another couple, new friends, to come, and thus we settled in for Braddigan.

Braddigan played for 90 minutes, a fusion jazz, Latin, beach music, surfer song, yodelling mish mash, which was bizarre minstelry, but somehow it all held together. He’s new age earnest and gave us a full report on his charitable activities in Latin America and how he is bringing his “melody and light” to the people. One song, “Ileana,” was from his new album, The Captive. He wrote it about a 13-year-old, HIV-positive, drug-addicted prostitute who he met in a shanty town built in a garbage dump, and who, according to Braddigan, had “eyes as bright as stars.” His old band was Dispatch, which was clearly successful enough to fund lots of trips to Ecuador and Brazil. I’m being a bit glib; it was a great set and he was really a warm person when we were able to chat him up. After the show, he gave out lots of free DVDs about his charity work, and he was eager to demonstrate his Spanish skills to my bemused Latino husband.

At one moment during the show, after he had been playing for more than an hour straight, and clearly no one was guiding the flow of the show, Braddigan shielded his eyes from the stage lights and looked into the audience, “Hey, anyone out there going to tell me when to stop? I’ll just keep playing music forever.”

And then a few minutes later I caught Marc Broussard peeking out at the audience…

Yea, well, oh holy hell, Marc sauntered on stage, looked over the sad little crowd dispersed among the seats, and said, “Y’all are going to have to get your asses out of those seats. I’ve been doing a lot of these shows, and you gotta trust me, get up here. It’ll be boring for you and boring for us if you sit there. Git yourselves up here.” So all 27 of us came up, leaned against the front of the stage, and he seriously freaked us with a cover of Donny Hathaway’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” (his version of this song is reason enough to get his new album, S.O.S.: Save Our Soul). As he was making the hair raise on the back of my neck, I turned to my friend, who looked kind of stunned, and she mouthed, “Wow.”

And on it went: he and the band gave us more than an hour of Southern rock, funk, and soul jams, mixing in his own songs, “Come Around,” “Rocksteady,” “The Wanderer,” “Gavin’s Song,” with covers of Morris Day’s “The Bird,” Bobby Womack’s “Harry Hippie” (which he introduced as “one of my favorite songs”), Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Happening Brother,” Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” and Stevie Wonder’s “You Met Your Match.” There were a few other jams thrown in, but my notes were spotty in places. He finished up with his own song, “Home” (our video below).

A free concert on a rainy night for 27 people and he gave us a full serving of goodness. Then he hung around after the show, and handed out free CDs of the show they just did in Okinawa.

Marc told us where he was going next (to play on some ships), and was genial, real, charming, and self-depreciating. We thanked the band profusely for coming and left, humming and babbling with happiness. Go see him, and git yer asses out of your seats!

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