From the apalachtimes.com website…
By Jennifer Sheffield, photo by David Adlerstein
Published: Wednesday, January 14
He opened with Bob Dylan’s, "Ring Them Bells," and sent the crowd home with a Louisiana Creole song, that he crafted from the daily calls of a watermelon peddler on the streets of New Orleans, where singer-songwriter Spencer Bohren calls home.
But it wasn’t just his music that filled the Dixie Theatre on Saturday night.
The freshness of his storytelling also took the audience back 40 years, to the two months Bohren spent at the Gibson Inn sweeping floors and singing songs to old timey shrimpers in the bar.
That was 1975. He and his wife were living as hippies out West and travelling along the coastlines of America when they found Apalachicola. Back then, he recalled the Inn was painted, "something like red," and a woman named Martha was tending to it.
The town, he recalls, was in a state of, "beautiful decay," but the Gibson Inn? "That place…it was a revelation to me," Bohren said, adding, "I thought that I was so worldly…but how worldly can you be at 26?" He also acquired one of his favorite instruments in Apalachicola – a stripped-down 1928 National Triolian brushed steel guitar.
The story goes that a man named Arthur was so moved by Bohren’s music one night after a few Millers and whiskies that he drove him to get the guitar at the historic house where his wife lived. Except, Arthur wasn’t legally supposed to be at the house, and during a hurried getaway, the guitar was flung through the air and down a flight of stairs where Bohren was standing, and caught it. The tale is full of hilarious outtakes, and the lively audience at the Dixie laughed along with him, as he recalled the details.
Bohren’s road instruments, used on his award-winning "Down the Dirt Road" blues concert, also include his trusty 1955 Gibson J-45 guitar, a 1950 Tonemaster lap steel guitar and a banjo. The show at the Dixie was a solo gig, but Bohren said, "I get my band jones other ways." He is currently playing and singing with The Write Brothers.
Producing Director Dixie Partington said Bohren "found her" and asked to play this homecoming concert in Apalachicola. It was certainly a night that captured many miles of a 48-year professional music career and showcased a blend of Virginia blues and ragtime, classic country, folk, roots and gospel, along with familiar covers like Bobbie Gentry’s "Ode to Billie Joe," Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah," plus a little hit of Hank Williams.
Bohren ended, slowly strumming the lap steel, with a thought, that he could have ended up being a shrimper had he stayed long in Apalachicola. The audience was pleased, though, that night that he had not, and decided to bring his music here instead.
Bohren promised, "If you come back, then I will too." Time may pass, but he can’t make the good stuff up.