Tommy Prine’s penultimate tour date of his debut solo tour sold out the Hideaway Cafe in downtown St. Petersburg on Dec. 16. The 8 p.m. show commenced when Prine hopped onstage clad in a t-shirt, dark jeans and an electric-acoustic guitar for a preview of his debut album and some odes and dedications to his father, John Prine.
“It’s been an interesting process, even just starting my career. When I decided to do the record, things were still not great. And I had a whole bunch of time on my hands just to hang out inside and write songs,” Prine said.
Backed by a crimson curtain and red lights, Prine opened the show with a soulful, somber and sweet ballad “I Love you Always”, dedicated to his fiance and soon-to-be wife, Savannah, followed by a lighthearted melody “Observations” detailing some specifics of being a parent to a foster animal, as well as day-to-day reflections. Prine’s soulful, emotive voice paralleled the deeper acoustic tones excellently.
Prine’s natural camaraderie invited gaggles of laughter from the audience and his impeccable stage presence rivaled those of masterful performers. He knew where to stand, when to interject with an anecdote, or a backstory and he knew how to demand the audience’s attention with lyrical storytelling. In the silence between tracks, he entertained the guests with freestyled finger-picked melodies, serving as an artistic interlude between numbers.
“I think everyone can expect to not see a John Prine Jr., per se, but, you know, I think there’s a lot of things that I learned from him as a person and musically, that I’m sure some of his hardcore fans will pick up on,” Prine told The Gabber. “I’ve been told that I look like him and act like him, so I’m sure that will be something people will notice, but the songs that I write and the way I sing, and everything is pretty different.”
The set list combined original songs from the debut album, a cover of “I still Miss Someone” by Johnny Cash and a tribute “Cash Carter Hill” and a cover of one of his dad’s songs “The Late John Garfield Blues”.
After each song, guests applauded, nodded, whistled and hollered at Prine, letting him know how the words resonated.
“I think my job as a songwriter is to be as vulnerable as possible and to deliver my work with emotion because I think people can tell when artists can sing songs that they don’t mean. I think it adds a level of connectivity when the artist has a true emotional connection with the words in the song,” Prine said.
All 11 tracks of the debut album were recorded mid-pandemic and the debut album is set to be mastered in the coming weeks, according to Prine. He also mentioned that the release date is set for sometime in 2022.