On September 8th, 1565 St. Augustine was first set foot upon by Spanish admiral and Florida’s first governor, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. He named the settlement “San Agustín”, as his ships bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain had first sighted land in Florida on August 28, the same year, the feast day of St. Augustine. It remains the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the continental United States. Driving through the downtown area on the way to the venue, we could easily see that the local population are very proud of the town’s history. Amongst a thriving local tourist industry, all of the buildings in the city are recreations of their original forms. One example is the impressive double-leaf bascule Bridge of Lions which was recently repaired and refurbished to its original specification due to it being declared structurally deficient and functionally obsolete in 1999. Parts of the town really are reminiscent of Spain.
On October 27th 2015, we first set foot in this delightful town. Today’s day trip took us from our Beach-front hotel in West Palm Beach to Palm beach airport and then Northwards through some turbulent air to St. Augustine airport, about 20 minutes from the outdoor 3,493-seat St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The venue here is set in what feels like tropical woodland and although I’m sure there are none roaming wild up here, the neighbouring Alligator Farm is a grim reminder that we are in amongst their natural domain.
The folks running the venue were as sweet as they could be and the catering team were not only courteous and helpful, they could really cook. Blackened Mahi Mahi and Mango relish with a side of sublime ginger infused kale was a treat. A very small slice of home made Apple Pie rounded off my light pre-show dining experience. I was however perturbed as I seemed to have lost my reading glasses almost as soon as we arrived here. The whole backstage crew seemed engaged in helping me find them. I located them eventually…. in my spare bag in the wardrobe case, they must have fallen into the bag out of my top pocket whilst I was rearranging my clothing for the trip home, without me noticing. That’s twice on the tour they’ve been lost and found.
The local bonhomie was extended throughout the show as the audience seemed unusually ecstatic, right from the moment Paul Crockford greeted us onto the stage ‘ring-announcer style.
We had a fabulous show from beginning to end and the temperature and humidity on the stage seemed to increase throughout the night. We were pretty wet by the time our strict curfew arrived. At 9:58, we played our last notes and waved our goodbyes with the huge roars of the crowd fading into the distance as we drove away in our fleet of cars back to the airport and an Embraer Legacy loaded with Chicken Wings. Hungry wasn’t the word, we devoured them.
By 11:30 we were pulling up at the hotel in time for a swift drink or two.
Today’s Track of the Day is Later Alligator (See You Later, Alligator) – Bobby Charles (Charles helped to pioneer the south Louisiana musical genre known as swamp pop. His compositions include the hits “See You Later, Alligator”, which he initially recorded himself as “Later Alligator”, but which is best known from the cover version by Bill Haley & His Comets; and “Walking to New Orleans”, written for Fats Domino.)