Edwin McCain talks ahead of show at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall


With a music career spanning more than two-and-a-half decades, singer-songwriter Edwin McCain makes his way to the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall Wednesday to play a mix of new tunes and old favorites.

A South Carolina native, McCain found success in the late 1990s with songs like “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask for More.” Today, he continues to put out fresh material, and even had his own reality show in 2015 called “Flipping Ships” on Animal Planet, which McCain confirms will not be renewed for a second season.

Compass caught up with the man of many talents to chat about his upcoming performance, audience demographic and the pressure of writing a hit song. Here’s part of that conversation.

Compass: Tell me a bit about this upcoming performance at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Will it be solo or with your band?

Edwin McCain: It’s a trio with sax player Craig Shields and guitar player Larry Chaney. Craig and I have been playing together for 25 years and Larry is a junior member of the band with a scant 18 years of service. We cover music and material from 10 albums, and try and hit on a lot of different eras. It just depends … I kind of feel the crowd out. Sometimes we get in front of crowds that only want to hear the old stuff, and then some like the new stuff.

Compass: Do you do a set list before your shows?

E.M.: No. No. I have a core group of songs I know I’m going to play. I mean there’s a handful that are absolutely almost mandatory, and then there’s all the others that are wildcards. I just go with however the night feels like it wants to go.

Compass: Have you seen a change in the demographic of your audience over the past 25 years?

E.M.: Ya, they’ve gotten older like me. It’s interesting, I see a lot of the same faces, but now I’m starting to see their kids bringing their kids, which is weird. You know, I’m starting to see grandchildren. I still feel like I’m 15 years old and probably have the same emotional mindset, so it’s strange to be knocking on 47. When I started this, I was 15 and used to think that people who played music over 40 were weird and now I’m one of them.

Compass: Do you interact a lot with your audience during shows?

E.M.: I do. I mean, that all depends, too. That’s a slippery slope. Sometimes people will call out requests and if it’s a good one — if it’s one that I feel fairly confident that I know all the words to — I’ll play it. And there can be an exchange with the audience, but sometimes that can get a little out of hand, so I really like to try and approach the shows as if they were a handwritten letter. So I’m going to write this letter to you and you’re going to read it, and by the time you thought of something to say to me, I’ll be gone.

Compass: You released a three-song EP in August titled “O Edwin, Where Art Thou?” I read that you plan to continue releasing music in this way. Is that still the game plan?

E.M.: Yep. The next three songs are locked and loaded. They’re mastered and completely different from the last three songs, and I’ll start on the next three songs once we release these. It’s really fun because it allows me a lot of latitude as far as genre and production value. It also sort of sets the deadline out there because I’m a chronic procrastinator. If I don’t have deadlines, I’ll just goof off and not do anything or get sidetracked working in some other field. This is a good way for me to stay engaged musically and also reconnect with some old friends that I’ve always admired and wanted to work with.

Compass: You’ve had big hits like “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask for More.” Does that lend a certain added pressure to crafting new songs?

E.M.: Nope. Not a bit. It’s a good question because I’ve read stuff about Steve Perry from Journey and that was one of the big reasons that he never really did anything after [being in Journey] because he felt like it wouldn’t be as great. I understand where he’s coming from, but I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s writing, and he wrote this book called “Outliers” and there’s this huge component of timing that comes with success, and so I feel like those hit songs had so much to do with timing. If we’re measuring greatness with album sales, that game ended a while ago. The only way to measure success is, “Do I like it and was it fun?”

Edwin McCain will perform with Danny Burns at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, 1050 State Road A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $45.50 for the first four rows, $39.50 for rows 5 through 13 and $31.50 for all remaining rows.