January 20, 2008

Posted by & filed under News.

When we moved to St. Pete in 1996, We knew we’d have to play a lot of local Tampa Bay area steady gigs to survive and pay the bills in between the occasional road trips. And we’d need a lot of fans showing up at those gigs to help pay the club owner’s bills and keep us coming back. We noticed some of the same faces in the crowd night after night & thought of a small, fun way to thank them, encourage them to keep coming back & to get more folks to come out more often. So, we got some cards printed up, handed them out, & stamped each person’s card at every gig they came to. When their card had 10 stamps, they chose a prize from the prize bag.

The FREQUENT FAN cards started in 1998-2000. Withholding last names to protect privacy, those early winners were: Steve & Gail, Ron & Audette, Donna, Bob N., Bob & Debbie, Ed & Marian, Just Old Bob, Brian & Pam, Audrey, Les, Digger & Theresa, Walter, Pat, Terry, Dennis & Pete.

When we brought back the cards in 2003 through 2007, these winners were added: Terry, Yankee Bill, Judy, George, Mary & Ralph, Shirley, Jack, Lovey, Dan, Marv, Mama Blues, Doreen, Bob & Gwyneth, Ralph & Hildegarde, Marlyn, Opal, Harriett, & Steve.

The winners list would be much longer if everyone remembered their cards at every gig and if every fan participated. 9 winners- Les, Jack, Marv, Mama Blues, Ralph & Hildegarde, Marlyn, Harriett, & Steve- actually live up north, yet they won by coming to shows there in the summer & Florida visits in winter. Unfortunately, some have moved away, and at least 3 are no longer with us: Digger, Lovey & Ralph, who we miss seeing in the crowd.

Many won several times. Doubtless, our #1 Frequent Fan has to be Terry, who won 6 times (that’s 60 gigs!) in 2007! He also won, amazingly, 8 times in 2004, 6 times in 2005, & 10 times in 2006!! He may be the only person who’s heard every one of our 200+ songs, seen every gig outfit we’ve ever worn, & witnessed a lot of joy, sadness and craziness along with us. Terry so appreciates live music and is kind, fun, empathetic & generous. If we only had 50 more like him! He’s the one who wrote the lyrics (and I put them to music) to “Straight At Me” which will be on our next CD. You can find Terry at most of our Florida gigs, often accompanied by a tiny sweet lady- his mom, Mary- who’s won 24 times herself. Her favorite songs are my newer originals “Boogie Woogie Staircase” & “Last Song” which will also be on our next CD. They’re Indiana natives.

Another Frequent Fan jewel is Judy, who won five times in 2007, 9 in 2006, 5 in 2005, 4 in 2004 and 1 in 2003. Originally from Ohio, Judy is also kind, fun, empathetic, generous, + a talented cook and floral designer. She brings along many friends & family members. One of those is Opal from Iowa, who has survived cancer, heart disease & arthritis, yet still comes out often & inspires us with her fun spirit. She obliterates most excuses anyone could have for not going out.

More top winners you’re likely to see are Dan (usually sporting a great Florida shirt), Yankee Bill & Doreen (who request songs #11 & #56) & the great dancing snowbirds from Ohio, Ralph & Hildegarde, who write their favorite songs on the back of their Frequent Fan cards, then have to rewrite them all when they win & have to turn in their cards. The great thing is that all these folks have become friends with us & each other, and gigs become reunions/parties. Anyone & everyone is most welcome! Music is the glue that bonds us all.

Musicians can never have too many gigs or too many fans. We know that you sacrifice a night on the couch in front of the TV, your precious time, hard-earned money, & expensive gasoline to come out to gigs, and we never take that for granted. Whether you come out every night or every ten years, we’re glad to see you & know YOU keep us working & music alive. Every single face in the place counts (and believe me, many club owners are counting!) Playing at home is fine, but sharing music with an audience is much better. There’s nothing like the high of looking into someone’s eyes while playing a song & connecting on an indescribable level. Every single show is a unique experience with a different ambience, combination of songs and people. Our Frequent Fans can attest to this & can tell you that you don’t know what you’re missing when you’re not there.

We look forward to seeing all of you Frequent Fans, past & present, at many gigs in 2008. Don’t forget to bring your card with you (no more back-stamping in 2008), and bring along some new folks, too! And any of you who’d like a free card, just ask at any gig- we’d love to add you to the “Liz & Doc Support Group” & the FREQUENT FAN Hall of Fame.

Thanks so much, God Bless & we’ll be looking for you.

Liz Pennock