Brother, we’re all just playing for second place. The Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Steam Show rolled through town in March just to remind us how it’s done.

It was Tuesday night in a strange little room called the Empire House in Wichita’s Cowtown Museum where Fred and his bandmates held court for a couple of hours. The mighty Tif Ginn did quadruple duty: guitar, supporting vocals, accordion AND first-rate opening act. better than the audience? Hell, they looked better than everyone. Keep it interesting? “Interesting” just doesn’t quite say it. Start with fantastic songs. Top that off with a first-rate band and tight arrangements, and you’re just getting started.

There was a great dynamic arc to the evening, with small quiet songs and big rockin’ loud songs and chilly vintage guitar tones and dancing and a kickass rhythm section made up of pretty girls all tarted up and giving ’em hell.

And jokes. And philosophy.

And most of all, connection. Fantastic, inclusive connection, from start to finish. Many thanks to Fred Eaglesmith and his Traveling Steam Show for showing up on a wintry Wichita weeknight and taking me to school.