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Ace Moreland Benefit
Freebird Cafe
February 4, 2003

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Phil Swindle ~ Barrylee Harwood ~ Jim Sexton ~ Tim Lindsey

Tuesday February 4, the Freebird Cafe in Jacksonville Beach, FL, hosted a benefit to help out a friend, Kingsnake recording artist, Ace Moreland, who had fallen on some hard times. Jim Jenness backed by Jacksonville and Kingsnake's best kicked off the night's musicwith a great rendition of Ace's "Ain't Nothin' But A Party.” But clearly, as the night progressed one could sense that there was a lot more than a "little party goin' on" here. Ace's fellow musicians, friends and fans joined together to celebrate the man and his music and raise some much needed funds to send his way to help with the expense of his medical bills for the treatment of lung cancer.

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Judy Van Zant donated the food and the use of the Freebird Cafe and the staff donated their time to be there as well. All the money collected from the raffles (items donated by Teresa Rapp, Bill Wharton,and the Freebird Cafe, among others), at the door and from the buffet went straight to Ace, netting about $2000.The event was recorded by Rick and Bob Broyles of RR Films, who documented the evening and provided those in attendance the chance to send a personal message to Ace, which, along with a guest book filled with best wishes, was Federal Expressed to Ace the next day

Many musicians and friends were on hand in support of Ace.When I arrived at the Freebird around 8 pm, I was pleasantly surprised to see Artimus Pyle standing outside talking to Gene Odom. This was my first time meeting Gene, so I welcomed the opportunity to say hello and let him know how much I enjoyed both of his books.It was great to see Arti as well, who said that he came with no intentions of playing, but was there in support of a friend.

Thankfully someone or something persuaded Artimus to be swayed otherwise, because before the evening was over we would all be enjoying an impromptu performance by Artimus and many members of the APB band!

As the first group of players set up to play, I was once again pleasantly surprised when I saw Dru Lombar of Grinderswitch up on stage.He took his place right alongside Kingsnake alumni Warren King on guitar, Augustine "Auggie" Antoine on bass and Chip Miller on drums.Current APB members Phil Swindle and Barry Rapp were on guitar and organ respectively and rounding out the ensemble were Bob Macy on sax, Ken Nasta on drums, Stuart Baer on keyboards and Jim Jenness on vocals.Their set consisted of all Ace Moreland tunes, starting us off with "Ain't Nothin' But a Party".Barry Rapp took on the lead vocals for a lively version of "Got My Mojo Workin'" which had band and the audience all joining in on the chorus.Therewas a 2 verse attempt at "Oh No, Henrietta" with Jim Jenness on lead vocals.Unfortunately they couldn't catch the groove on that one and it was mercifully abandoned, lol.No harm, no foul, though. We were there to have a good time, and they kept the party going with an incredible version of "Burned by Love." Bill Wharton, the "Sauce Boss", was also there and brought his steel guitar on stage without any introduction and began to play. Even alone on stage, Bill Wharton has a very commanding presence and left many members of the audience tapping their toes, all the while wondering who was up there, lol! The music was a mix of Louisiana bayou/ cajun/ bluegrass. He only played two songs, but just as with his gumbo made on stage during his regular performances, he left the crowd wanting more and could have easily served up another song or two.

We were then treated to some Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes served up APB Band style with Artimus Pyle pounding the skins, Timmy Lindsey onbass, Barry Rapp on keyboards and Phil Swindle on guitar. Barry Lee Harwood from the Rossington-Collins Band and Jim Sexton rounded out the three guitar attack. Their set rocked, bringing the house down and the crowd out of their seats and up onto the dance floor!
As the evening continued, Buzzy Meekins continued the jam for a couple of sets with some of the other musicians present.Then, the music ended that night as it began, with the original players, including, Warren King, Auggie, Chip Miller, Barry Rapp and Jim Jenness taking the stage once more to pay tribute to Ace with a few more of his songs.Clearly the highlight of this set was an incredibly moving rendition of Lonnie Mack's "Why" with Kymystry's Nadine Atkinson singing the background vocal. Ace's good friend Steve Gaines originally performed this song before Ace included it in his own set list.Needless to say, "Why" left very few dry eyes in the house.

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Dru Lumbar ~ Bob Massey ~ "Auggie" Antoine ~ Warren King ~ Stuart Baer

All in all the evening was fun, inspiring and bittersweet. It was truly a testament to the legacy of the love and music that Ace has left us.His friends were gathered that night in his honor, singing the songs that Ace has sung many, many times before that would illicit a smile, a nod, or a "hell yeah" from the fans and friends in the audience and in the wings.But even as the music played, it was tinged with sorrow as it was realized that chances were great that we may never again see and hear Ace Mo, the man himself, sing his songs. Sadly, these feelings proved all too true. Ace passed away just four days after this benefit, on Saturday, February 8. My one wish for Ace as he continues his journey, free from the pain he experienced at the end of this phase, is that he truly knows the extent of the legacy of music, friendship and love that he has left to us. For me this could have been no more clearly demonstrated than it was on Tuesday night as we gathered for him at the Freebird Cafe.

“There's something there that we all share
That binds my brother to me”

"Birds of a Feather"
Greenlee, Payne / Midnight Creeper Music, BMI
Sung by Ace Moreland on "Keeping A Secret" Kingsnake Records, 1996

Clearly what bound us together at the Freebird Cafein Jacksonville Beach, FL on Tuesday February 4 was the love, friendship and admiration of bluesman Ace Moreland. What drew everyone together was the need to do something to help their brother who was experiencing hard times and needed their support.Now that he is gone, he leaves the legacy of his music and the memories, which will no doubt continue to bring us together.

-Gloria Jourdan

(Special Thanks to our frynd Nadine Atkinson who also submitted a report on this event.)

Special Thanks to Gritz Southern Music Magazine & Terri for Photos