Freezing cold temperatures on a Tuesday might deter some people from going out to see a show, but when the band playing is Whiskey Myers, you go regardless of the weather conditions.
The last time these guys were in NYC was in the fall at Hill Country Live. Their stop in the big apple this time was a precursor for what will surely be a busy week as they ready the release of their third album Early Mornin' Shakes on February 4th.
Rockwood Music Hall is a tiny venue that circulates artists through about every hour. It holds about one hundred or so people, a much smaller capacity than what they are used to, as Whiskey Myers regularly plays to sold out crowds at 1000 person capacity venues. The guys hit the stage about 8:30 and played a short forty-five minute set for a crowd of about 65 people. To me, it was a perfect show: intimate with great energy and, of course, excellent music. They started off, appropriately enough, with "Bar, Guitar and A Honky Tonk Crowd" then continued with the southern rock sound playing tracks from the new album including "Early Mornin' Shakes" and "Hard Row to Hoe" on which you could see guitarist Cody Tate immerse himself and get lost in the music.
"If you can't be good then be f-- loud" said lead Cody Cannon. Whiskey Myers is loud and undeniably good. However, they are certainly not a one dimensional band. They're genre mixers whose sound is organic, manifold, and unique. The audience heard their diversity first hand in songs from Early Mornin' Shakes, like "Home" and "Dogwood" (on which John's guitar skills were more than evident) and the sadly beautiful "Broken Window Serenade" from Firewater. Cody's soulful, passionate voice conveys the stories in their songs, whether it is ones with a rockabilly, bluesy lean or a ballad. Gary and Jeff more than expertly handle their duties on bass and drums respectively. The result is a honed, edgy sound that will leave you wanting more.
They closed out the night with "A Different Mold," which highlighted not only Cody Tate's musicianship, but his vocals as well. It seemed to be over just as it was getting started, but it was a special show well worth seeing because undoubtedly next time Whiskey Myers is in NYC they will be at a much larger venue with a much larger crowd.
For more information visit www.whiskeymyers.com
Early Mornin' Shakes will be available on February 4th and is available for pre-order.
Man it was cold outside, but inside the Garden, the sold out crowd was enjoying a little over three hours of music from Luke Bryan and the guys on the That's My Kind of Night Tour.
Newcomer, and Luke's former merch guy, Cole Swindell burst onto the scene last year with his now top five and still climbing hit "Chillin' It." When Cole came out to perform his set, the venue was only about 1/3 full. The people who weren't there...well, they missed a terrific six song set. Cole is a natural performer. He works the entire stage, interacts with the crowd, encourages everyone to stand up and have fun and is always smiling. You can tell he is extremely humble and grateful for the success that has come his way in such a short time. He stated how thrilled he was to be in NYC and to be playing MSG. He and his band sounded like they have been doing this for longer than they actually have. They performed "Hey Y'All," "Get Up," "Brought To You by Beer," and his new single "Hope You Get Lonely." He concluded with "Chillin' It."
Look out for this guy because in a few years, he will be selling out the Garden as a headliner.
NB. Cole moves around alot, making it very difficult to get good pictures with a point and shoot. I apologize in advance for the blurry photo.
The crowd at the Garden loved and I mean LOVED Lee Brice. A few songs in and seats were full....with no one actually sitting. Everyone was standing and singing with him the entire set. Every song he sang received thunderous applause and cheering. He worked hard and at times seemed both overwhelmed and thankful for the reception he received from the crowd. "Hard To Love," "A Woman Like You," and "I Drive Your Truck" were twenty thousand people sing alongs on which his voice was strong and emotive. Other songs in his set included "Drinking Class," which he said was about his daddy and people who work hard, and his new single, a song for his wife "I Don't Dance." He utilized video screens, but they did not distract from watching him or his band. They flashed images of beer, trucks and nature and thankfully did not just play videos of the songs he was singing. A female jumped the stage during "Love Like Crazy," however security promptly removed her while Lee commented and laughed "that's crazy." He closed out his set with the raucous "Parking Lot Party."
I had not read or heard anything about Luke's set for this tour (no, I don't live under a rock), so I was impressed and maybe even a little amazed when I saw the opening to "That's My Kind of Night." Yes, a big black jacked up truck emerged from under the stage with Luke on the roof while a bonfire "burned" nearby. Whether you like his music or not, there is no denying, Luke is an entertainer with a capital "E." That man smiled, ran around, played guitar, gyrated, danced, laid on the floor to take photos and selfies with fans, high-fived, and gave 200% for the hour and a half he was on stage. He played all of his hits from "Country Man," "Rain Is A Good Thing," to "Do I," "Drunk On You," and "Crash My Party." And as with Lee's set, the cheering and applause after every song were continuous and deafening.
The only song that really didn't go over well with the crowd was the combo of "Muckalee Creek Water"/"Drinkin' Beer and Wastin' Bullets." A lot of people sat down and their attention waned. Perhaps it was because the songs took on more of a rock vibe, but that said, there was some pretty awesome guitar playing by Michael Carter at the finish. After that song, the crowd came back to the fun of spring break and "Suntan City" where Luke handed out cold beers from a Cabelas' cooler (hopefully all of the recipients were of age) and performed Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "Can't Hold Us." Luke held his own with the song even commenting after:"shit that was hard, there are a lot of words."
"Drink A Beer" brought a truly solemn moment to the night when he sat on the edge of a pier that, like the truck, emerged from under the stage, and played the song just him and the guitar. It was a heartfelt moment for anyone who has lost someone.
After what seemed like a few seconds, Luke and the guys came out for the finale. And here is my only gripe: Luke played "The Only Way I Know" which I thought would be the perfect opportunity to bring Lee and Cole back out to sing, but instead, Luke sang all three parts himself. It was fine, although I just think having the others come back out would have made it better.
And finally, if you have seen the show, you know that the stage is quite high, but somehow another woman (perhaps in her 40s) got a boost and jumped on it. She grabbed Luke from behind when he started singing and attempted to get him to um, gyrate into her. Luke wanted nothing to do with it. Security got her off and Luke said "what in the hell do you think you're doing?" I honestly wonder what is going through someone's head to behave like that? It baffles me. Anyways, Luke regained his composure and launched into the finale of "Country Girl" at the end of which he brought a young man up on stage to teach him the way to shake it.
Luke, like the others, seemed grateful to everyone in attendance and thanked the crowd for coming out along with a "see you in September" when he brings the tour back for round two.
For more information:
It seems a lot of people, myself included, have a bad case of Winter Doldrums. I've found that a good live show is the surest cure, so I was really looking forward to seeing Holly Williams with Jason Isbell at The Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw North Carolina recently. The 700 tickets for this show sold out so quickly that another show was added for the following week. Those tickets also sold out in no time.
It's safe to say that the majority of the people in the venue were there to see Jason Isbell and some were unfamiliar with the opener, Holly Williams. It's also safe to say that after her eight song set, she had gained quite a few new fans.
The granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr. and daughter of Hank Williams Jr., Holly's Americana music skews more towards traditional country. She performed songs from her critically acclaimed album "The Highway" released in early 2013. The songs on this album are obviously very personal and the emotion in her voice conveys as beautifully live as it does on the album. Highlights from the set were "Drinkin'", title track "The Highway", "Gone Away from Me", and "Waiting on June". The only song in the set not from her recent album was a great version of "I Saw the Light", written and recorded by Hank Sr. in 1948. By the time she finished her set, she really had the crowd warmed up for the headliner.
By all accounts, Jason Isbell has had a stellar year. His most recent album, "Southeastern" is on every "Best of 2013" list that I've seen, but I was largely unfamiliar with his music. Like his opening act, his music is Americana but skews a bit more towards rock than country. The former member of Drive-By Truckers and his band, The 400 Unit, took the stage to huge applause and started their twenty song set with "Flying over Water". He moved with ease from more rock oriented songs to the gripping, emotionally charged "Elephant" and "Travelin' Alone", to an especially good cover of Candi Staton's "Heart on a String". The crowd moved right along with him, singing along the entire time. These were long time fans with a deep appreciation for his formidable talent as a songwriter and musician.
Though I came to the show primarily to see Holly Williams, I left with a much greater appreciation for Jason Isbell's music. If you get the chance to see either of these artists on tour, don't take a pass. They won't disappoint.
For more information visit www.hollywilliams.com & www.jasonisbell.com
Special thanks to Harriett Watkins, who attended the show and was kind enough to write this review for the site. You can follow Harriett on Twitter @harriett0312