By the Way

On Kenny Loggins, Voodoo Shrimp and Willie Nelson at the IP

Willie Nelson played at the IP Casino Resort on Friday. I wonder of he ate some Voodoo Shrimp at the Half Shell Oyster House?
Willie Nelson played at the IP Casino Resort on Friday. I wonder of he ate some Voodoo Shrimp at the Half Shell Oyster House? Courtesy

I always look forward to Fridays, which is, speaking in superlatives, the best day of the week. It’s not even my last day of the work week — that comes on Saturday. Friday is just Friday; I’ve always been a fan of Fridays. Friday means one of two things to me — I’m either going out with my family or I’m covering music, the two things I most enjoy.

I went to lunch on Friday with Willie Nelson’s longtime harmonica player and my new friend, Mickey Raphael. He wanted to go to the Half Shell Oyster House in Biloxi and I was not going to argue over his choice. Lunch at the Half Shell meant there would be a Half Shell Salad in my future. Everyone has their favorite dish on the Coast, be it a po-boy from Pirate’s Cove in Pass Christian or the red beans and rice at the Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport.

My favorite indigenous dish is the Half Shell Salad with Voodoo Shrimp. The salad on its own is pretty awesome, but the addition of the shrimp makes it my favorite. And for those of you food snobs who have something to say about mixing goat cheese, which comes on the salad, with shrimp, I say get a jar of Grey Poupon and chill. I find your food snobbery hilarious.

Ahh, the Half Shell Salad with Voodoo Shrimp.

This is it — a Loggins encounter

I was really enjoying the conversation with Mickey. Between bites of lunch — he opted for the seared tuna instead of the shrimp — we talked about some important things, like how much we love Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” the Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald track with Thundercat and how good the documentary “Chicago: Now More Than Ever” is.

And, oh yeah, Kenny Loggins was sitting a few tables away from us. I can only hope he was having the Half Shell Salad.

Kenny was walking out and as I had interviewed him twice in the past couple of weeks, I spoke to him. He was very affable and he and Mickey started talking about Chris Stapleton, with whom Mickey has toured.

This really caught Kenny’s attention — forget that the guy has spent more than 45 years by Willie Nelson’s side, Kenny wanted to talk about Chris. And that’s when something truly sweet and endearing happened. Kenny took out his phone and showed us a video of his 9-year-old daughter singing Stapleton’s hit “Tennessee Whiskey.”

He beamed with that light that comes from deep within a proud father. Believe me, I know how it feels to be a proud dad — just follow me on Facebook if you need proof. You could see it in Kenny’s eyes and hear it in his voice as he showed us the video — he was proud of his daughter. And he should be. She really nailed the song.

And is if that weren’t enough, Mickey told Kenny he would like to email the video to Chris. Kenny was elated at this and they exchanged email addresses and we grabbed a photo and Kenny went on his way.

But I’ll never forget that moment of the three us watching his daughter sing and the smile that was on Kenny’s face.

Last, but certainly not least, Mr. Willie Nelson

Willie played a great show at the IP Casino Resort on Friday. It was his first show on the Coast since he played two shows during Mardi Gras 2016.

If you don’t know, Willie will be 84 in April. If you think that slows him down or makes him any less of a performer in any capacity, there are a lot of things I would like to say to you, but I will simply say it does not. His voice and guitar playing were as good last night as ever.

But the best thing about the show was the crowd. It was probably the rowdiest crowd since Sammy Hagar played there in 2015. These people loved Willie and he ate it up. He was on fire — grinning from ear to ear, playing great guitar solos and having the crowd eat out of the palm of his hand. You could tell that he was having a grand time.

Mickey came out to visit with me after the show and then he jumped on the bus and the Willie Nelson Traveling Caravan went to the next town. I really enjoyed hanging out with him and I look forward to growing our friendship.

And now the waiting begins. One of the best Fridays has come and gone. But my buddy Kevin Cronin will be rolling into town Friday with REO Speedwagon, so there’s more to do. It’s only six days away.