The Grog and Tankard is located in Stafford, Virginia, on the Jefferson Davis Highway. I start with this because I originally had the Grog and Tankard listed as being in nearby Fredericksburg, which was driving my poor Tom Tom GPS (and, by consequence, me) crazy. Fortunately, I had given myself plenty of time to navigate the Friday afternoon, rush-hour traffic, and managed to arrive with still plenty of time to get set up and good to go.
I had a very welcoming audience, thanks in no small part to the King Street Bluegrass band (billed as “Alexandria’s Hometown Band”) . I was given to understand that they were a little more compact than usual, as a couple of their members (a fiddler and mandolin player) had other commitments that evening. Still, John on guitar, Robert on banjo and Nancy providing a solid foundation on stand-up bass put out a good, tight sound. They showed no pretense, but displayed themselves as the good friends and musical companions that they were. They had a good mix of bluegrass and country standards and did them all justice with some tight vocals and lovely picking.
They had a good bunch of fans that had come out to see them, so, as it turns out, I was the opening act. Still, as I already mentioned, I was made to feel very welcome. I managed to sell a CD or two, as well, and hope that I gained a few new fans in my own right.
The Grog and Tankard itself is a pub in every best sense of that term. Not too big, but absolutely comfortable for an acoustic act, with a fine sound system that could more than cover the room, and a comfortable stage with good lighting as well. After a somewhat stressful week, I felt at home on that stage, and played like it.
After my set, I had a good number of folk come up (including the folks in King Street Bluegrass) to remark upon the smoothness of my playing, how solid and inventive my guitar arrangements were (how well they supported my vocals), and a few wonderful compliments on my songwriting. Yeah, I know that to write this sounds audaciously boastful, but it is to underscore just how good the evening felt. I had gone to this, another entirely new venue, feeling a bit nervous (mostly because of the stress of traffic and a poor, struggling GPS), and headed home at the end of the evening feeling relaxed and energized. I could play this kind of gig six nights a week, and that is more or less my goal for the foreseeable future.