For 50 years on the Causeway across Mobile Bay, The Blue Gill Restaurant has been a mainstay for purveyors of fine seafood, burgers, cold beer, and live music.
On most weekends, diners are treated on the covered deck to either a national act, local talent and regional musicians and bands on the verge of breakout on the national scene.
Last night I took the wife, and family to the Blue Gill to enjoy Atlantic Recording Artists, NeedToBreathe. This South Carolina-based rock band just released their second album, The Heat; and they brought the heat and passion of their music to the cool breezes blowing on the deck stage of the Blue Gill.
There were ballads to sway to and rock anthems to “bob” your head in time and quite a few times, audience members joined in and clapped along with the tunes.
I found myself comparing the lead singer’s appearance on stage to a young “Kid Rock, but his music wasn’t anything like The Kid’s music.(That’s no slight on either artist) The band’s show and stage antics were filled with energy and showed no boredom or frustration from extensive travel or from playing the small venue. I had heard of the band, but wasn’t familiar with most of their songs, so no one near me was cursed with me singing along with the band, however, upon hearing NeedToBreathe, I can say that I’ll be listening to them more and in no time will be singing along. Watch out next time they are in town.
Even before NeedToBreathe came on stage, the music from the opening acts were also a pleasure to listen to. My wife bought a CD from the opening act, Birmingham, Alabama’s, Matthew Mayfield. Mayfield is an acoustic guitarist with a soulful, blue-sy sound and my personal favorite was “Still Alive”, which I would categorize as a “protest” song. Matthew was at home in the small venue and made a personal connection with the crowd.
In the “comedy world”, audiences are usually treated to an Opener, A Feature, and A Headliner. Last night’s schedule “featured” Keyboardist, Guitarist and Singer Andy Davis. I told Andy after the show that he made a good “Feature” performer, because he was on his way to “Headliner” status.
Andy was amusing when he spoke to the crowd, provided a “sing-a-long” segment with his “Let The Woman walk in”, and was self-deprecating when introducing his “i-band” accompaniment via his cell phone. He did a wonderful job of covering Etta James’, “At Last”. Andy is an artist than can hit a falsetto note without sounding annoying.
In our little group, (we had friends meet us and offered some seats to some strangers) everyone had a favorite. My wife, daughter and my daughter’s friend like Matthew. I, along with a few of my friends, like Andy. Everyone seemed to rock out to NeedToBreathe.
Last but not least, let me say the food was fantastic. Simple, affordable and tasty. The waitstaff was friendly, prompt, attentive, and not a bit shaken by the large crowd.
In my opinion, The Blue Gill Restaurant and last night’s performers proved once again why the Blue Gill is a frequent winner of “Best Place to Hear Live Music” competitions (as well as being named one of the Best Bars in America by Esquire Magazine), the Bluegill features great food, a gorgeous waterfront deck as well as an Amphitheater where patrons can enjoy great live music.