Gulf Shores Songwriter’s Festival: Pirate’s Cove Introduction

As is my habit when listening to a new Jimmy Buffett Album, I grab the the Liner Notes to not only read the lyrics, but also to check out the writing credits and to see if Jimmy has any guest musicians joining in. So it was that in 2004, when I first listened to License to Chill’s Cut #5, it was Jimmy and Toby Keith doing a cover of Will Kimbrough’s Piece of Work. The song resonated with me (my wife has called me a Piece of Work many times), so I of course did a little research on Will, only to find out that he had been the lead guitarist for Todd Snider’s Nervous Wrecks.

Then two years later, on the video for Take the Weather With You, there was Will again. This time writing and recording at Friendly Jim’s Portable Recording Studio on the friendly beaches of St. Barthelmey in the French West Indies. Only by then, he was known as “Les Nebulous.” He had joined Jimmy Buffett, Peter Mayer, and Roger Guth in the Caribbean to write songs for the upcoming album. Nice gig Will!

So it is that last month when I learned that Will had made some more contributions to Jimmy’s Hotel Buffett by supplying another cover song, and co-writing credits on three others, I had to learn more about him. To my surprise,  Will had a show  coming up  in November down in Gulf Shores and made plans to see him in person. In the prior two short weeks I had fallen in love with his work as a solo performer, especially Nobody from Nowhere, and his collaboration with Tommy Womack in their band Daddy.

He was playing at this mystical venue named Pirate’s Cove in Josephine, Alabama. A waterfront bar and restaurant that caters not only to human clientele, but also has an open door policy to any stray dog that is curious or hungry enough to stop in. Will and I had talked on the phone, and had planned to meet at Pirate’s Cove an hour before the show, but the torrential rains being blown in from the Gulf, and lost satellite coverage for my GPS, had me arriving almost at show time. When I got there, I spent a little bit of time with Will as he greeted many a friend (he grew up in Mobile), and we had just enough time to share a beer before show time.

Pirates Cove is an old restaurant/bar with a semi-perminate (Winters) tent  addition that covered the “Listenin’ Zone” where Will would be performing. I must admit that I was temporarily bummed to learn that he would be sharing the stage with another musician (I didn’t know the show was a part of the Songwriters Festival). His fellow musician turned out to be Spencer Bohren, from New Orleans. Man what a talent, and what a night. These two guys had never met, yet played together like they had been a duo for years. It was a cozy evening with about 40 to 50 people who braved the rain and thirteen dogs laying around on a collection of persian rugs… it couldn’t have been more Bohemian.

That afternoon I had purchased a new HD Camcorder, and had barely had enough time to charge the battery, which died before the last two songs of the set (he says regretting his decision to not buy a backup battery). The light was dim, and the rain was so loud at times it almost drowned out the music, but I think the video I shot matched the mood of the evening. It all turned out to be one of the most mystical musical experiences of my life.

Let’s start with the intro. Will and Spencer switched off playing one of their original through out the night, and that’s how we’ll present it here at Club St. Somewhere. I hope you enjoy it.


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