Last Friday night was pretty special. Shawn and Davy and I had our first in-person show together, just the three of us, since last summer, performing mostly my originals, one of Davy’s, a Billy Strayhorn piece, and an old Irving Berlin tune.

We’d had a bunch of rehearsals ahead of time, and though I felt solid with the songs and the arrangements, I wondered if I’d forget how to be on a stage in front of a room full (or, in this case, because of COVID protocols, not quite full) of people.

I was a little nervous. I did a little bit of pacing around the green room. I ate too much. I had some jitters. Butterflies. But I was never uncomfortable. I simply noticed how I was feeling.

We shot a couple of videos during the down time, after dinner, before the show. (Those will end up on my Patreon.) That work—that joy—kept me grounded. And it was familiar, too—creating something with an eye towards the future, a mindset in which I’ve been entrenched these last 14 months with all the live-streaming and recording I’ve been doing.

Showtime was 8 pm, and we took the stage with Carol, the owner of Stone Mountain Arts Center, and we were greeted immediately by something that nearly took my breath away—applause. That sound of hands brought together by living breathing human beings in person, showing their appreciation and their eagerness to have a real live experience, away from screens, away from phones, away from the idea of archiving the moment for future use. This was a time-standing-still kind of moment. A shining pearl harvested from the oyster of this strange and challenging year.

What followed was about 75 minutes of pure bliss. Singing and playing and living inside each song for its duration and not a moment longer. Sinking into the beauty and the magic of live performance. Looking into the open eyes of each and every person in that room. Connecting across points in space and time. Noticing my feet on the stage and my hands moving across strings and keys and my breath as I sang and spoke each word. We were all pixels on the most vivid screen in the world—the bright light of awareness shining on and through the present moment.

I hope I won’t ever take any of it—the in-person vocal harmony, the applause, the spark of recognition in the eyes of another—for granted ever again.

And I am so ready for more.