History was made in the Nation's oldest city Saturday night when Mumford and Sons finished their Gentlemen of the Road tour in St. Augustine, FL. When it was announced that GOTR would make it's final stop in the small coastal town, it was the biggest thing to happen to the city since Ponce De Leon stepped foot upon its Florida shores 500 years ago.
As Mumford says: "where you invest your love, you invest your life." And I've invested a lot of my life and my love in St. Augustine. It's the town of my alma matter, my beloved Flagler College. Its beaches are the resting place of the ashes of my best friend. It's cobblestone streets and historic landmarks make it a frequent vacation spot for our family. And my name may or may not still be carved in a booth in a tavern or two in the town.
So of course I joined 25,000 people in this quaint little town to see Mumford-mania first hand. The GOTR show was two days of music filled with some great performances (Justin Townes Earle, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, the Vaccines) and a few mediocre ones (Those Darlings - I've seen their show three times and I just don't get it). But when it was announced Saturday morning that the band Fun had to cancel their coveted pre-Mumford slot, the city was buzzing about a replacement.
Some concert-goers hoped Mumford would just fill the space - playing twice the planned set. Others thought a local band might get promoted from a side stage. So when the Emcee stepped out on stage and announced the next act, he forever solidified the most amazing upgrade in concert-going history. Replacing the uber-trendy and moderately talented Fun was none other than John Fogerty. John e'ffing Fogerty! Suddenly we were all a part of something major in St Augustine - major like the local phenom the Castillo de San Marcos!
It probably goes without saying that Fogerty did not dissapoint. The story we were told (by Mumford) is that he flew in the night before, practiced all Saturday with the backup band (more on that to come) and went on stage...like a true effing rock star. And the backup band he employed? For several songs it was the Vaccines...then Mumford came out to collaborate on "Down on the Corner." And from there on Mumford an Sons was the backup band for John Fogerty. Did you hear that - Mumford and Sons played as the backup band for John Fogerty. Let me tell you - if you've never belted out "Proud Mary" with John effing Fogerty, 25,000 of your closest friends, and Mumford and Sons...I can highly recommend it. Music Nerd Nirvana.
The entire Fogerty set was unreal. Even when it was done and Mumford was on the main stage for their set, they gushed like excited rock fan boys (Marcus Mumford thanked Fun for canceling, saying something to the effect of "we got to play with John effing Fogerty"). Mumford went on to deliver a blistering set...and trust me, a blistering set was needed considering they were following John effing Fogerty. I've been to my share of live shows and this one was simply unforgettable - highlights include a cover of the Beatles "Come Together" with the Vaccines, an acoustic cover of Springsteen's "I'm on Fire," and oh, did I mention John effing Fogerty was there?
For those who were there, what am I missing? What was your favorite part of the St. Augustine stopover of GOTR?
And for those that visited the oldest city for the first time - please come again. Come listen to WMNF, the honest to goodness best community and college radio station around. Enjoy the amazing St Augustine cuisine (Gypsy Cab, Caps, The Floridian, Harry's). Stop at Amistad to get gorgeous one of a kind fair trade goods. Drive over the Bridge of Lions into downtown and let the skyline take your breath away. Take a ghost tour or two. Visit the Memorial Presbyterian Church and marvel in the marble mausoleum that houses Henry Flagler, his daughter Jennie Louise, and her infant Marjorie. Eat some sweets at the Bunnery. Stroll the antique emporiums in Uptown. Walk the coquina beaches. But most importantly - come back. I promise there's more to see.
Those that were there know how special that night was. Cheers to Mumford, GOTR, St Augustine, and John effing Fogerty. This my friends is why I'm a music fan.