I love the fact that there are some places in the world that make us feel like the best versions of ourselves. When I lived back in Portland, Maine, for example, I would often take my bike out to Cape Elizabeth and sit near Portland Headlight where I would watch the boats go by and maybe read a book. I always felt great there, even on the worst day. Now I live in the Midwest where there's no coast to escape to, but there are some equally cool places.
For the past several years, I have had a regular solo-acoustic gig at a place called JFires Market Bistro in Waterloo, Illinois (about 30 minutes from St. Louis). The venue is an old 1800's style brick house, and I always set up outside on the arbor-covered cobblestone patio. The patio provides a perfect view of the western sky across an expanse of cornfield, and I typically play between the hours of 5pm and 9pm so the scene is amazing. I know it can be a bit cliche to talk about spectacular sunsets, but you really need to be there to appreciate an Illinois evening sky. While I'm playing, I love looking out over the deep orange glow reflecting off tables, beer glasses, and faces. It changes everything.
The people who are attracted to JFires are warm, generous, and friendly. Always. I have gotten to know many of the regulars by name, and they often send up glasses of whiskey to show their appreciation. Every time I perform at JFires, I feel like the best version of myself. The setting, the people, the whiskey, the music--it's a perfect balance for me and it is consistently three of the greatest hours I could ask for.
The first picture shows me at JFires with two of Illinois' finest people, David and Diana. The field and the sunset are visible through the trees. The second picture is taken right after I finished a gig, and it shows a view of where I set up on the patio.