There certainly were a lot of rednecks in
the house as Miranda Lambert noted this past Saturday night. She and Dierks
Bentley brought their Locked & Reloaded Tour to a packed house at the Nassau
Coliseum. Miranda and Dierks are good friends who have toured before back in
2006 on the original Locked & Loaded Tour. This time around they brought
Randy Houser as their special guest.
When the lights went down at exactly 730pm, Randy Houser stepped on stage to a half full arena. No matter, he played like it was a full house. I have seen Randy before in a much smaller venue and he is
definitely a live performer you don’t want to miss. He sings like his life depends on it. His voice is definitely one of the most powerful male voices in country music today. His set was short, only 5 songs, but the crowd loved him. He had everyone singing “Boots On” and his current rising single “Runnin’ Outta
Moonlight”. But the biggest cheers and sing along came with the closing number,
his very first number one single “How Country Feels”. Randy and his band
definitely got the crowd pumped for Dierks and Miranda. His band sounds great,
and they all seem to have their own unique style. His steel guitar player rocks
shades, a top hat and a pipe on the right while his keyboard player has the 70s
suit and shades look down to a tee on the left. And his drummer? He, like Chris
Thompson of EYB, has the best facial expressions while he’s playing. Keep an eye
on these guys during the show!
Dierks Bentley has got to be one of the most underappreciated artists out there in country music today.
You want to see a true entertainer in concert…then go to one of his shows. He loves his fans,
performing and music and this is evident throughout his show. He can do fun
songs like “5-1-5-0” and then segue into the sexy, slow numbers like “Come A
Little Closer”. One of my favorite parts from the show is when he performs “Up
On The Ridge”. He and the boys are on a riser with smoke and a woodsy backdrop.
Dan on fiddle and Brian on mandolin are playing and magic is captured right
there! The crowd, as evidenced by their cheers, loved it too. Another standout
moment is when he brings the band to the edge of the catwalk, introduces them
with great photos from their youth and plays a blue-grassified version of
“Settle for A Slowdown”. Dierks has a fantastic energy and interacts with the
crowd like no one else. He runs from side to side, high fives, and sits at the
end of the catwalk to interact with his fans. During Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do,
Dierks pulls up “whoever is having the most fun” on stage to “play” guitar. He
concludes his portion of the show with “HOME”, American flag on the screen, cell
phones up in the air and chants of “USA” from the crowd. At the end of his set,
Dierks has also been giving an autographed guitar away. The guy is a class act.
My only complaint is that his set is too short, but looking forward to next year
when he will be once again headlining his own tour.
Miranda Lambert came out to cheers and screams and went right into “Fastest Girl in Town”. I have to say, I have grown to really enjoy her live shows. She is sexy, sassy and spunky. She does not have
as much crowd interaction as her tour mate, but she is definitely high energy,
jumping and twirling around. Like Dierks, she keeps the visuals to a minimum
except for the use of video screens, but her feisty attitude and performance are
the real draws here anyway. Her band sounded great. That night her drummer’s
wife was having a baby, so Dierks’ drummer, Steve, subbed for him the entire
weekend. That man deserves major kudos for playing 3 hours every night, he did
an amazing job! Miranda played all of her hits from “Only Prettier” to
“Gunpowder and Lead”. She received strong emotional reactions when she sang both
“Over You” and “The House That Built Me”; many women in the audience were
crying. Other songs included in her set were “New Strings”, a cover of
“Mississippi Queen” and “Get Back” as she too introduced her band via video
screen images. She concluded her set with “White Liar” pointing to one
unsuspecting “liar” in the audience who she gifted with a pick.
After, two stools were set center stage. Dierks and Miranda dueted on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and “King of the Road”. Behind them were their entire bands and even some crew. It seemed
like we were let in on something really special: just watching friends sit around and sing in a small club rather than an arena. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic show. Don’t miss this tour, catch it when it comes to your town or travel to another town….it’s that good.
The ACM weekend in Vegas was a lot of fun, lots of good country music
pretty much from 9am-230am daily. The last band to play the ACM Expo at the
Orleans Hotel was none other than Blackberry Smoke, who took the Cooper Tire
Stage at 1pm on Sunday. I have only seen BBS five times, but every time I have,
the venue has been packed. This time the venue was outside at a stage in the
parking lot with only about 75 people in attendance. I am going to chalk the low
attendance up to the fact that it was the last live show before the ACM Awards
that night. But no matter, because for the die hard fans that were there as well
as people who just stopped by to listen, it was a terrific set…kind of like we
had a private show. I saw almost all of the bands that played that stage
throughout the weekend and Blackberry Smoke was one of the few that actually got
people out of their seats to the front of the stage. They opened with one of my
favorites Lucky Seven and kept the momentum going with Pretty Little Lie, One
Horse Town, Six Ways to Sunday and Good One Comin’ On in addition to others.
They sounded terrific and even though the crowd was small, played like they
meant it. A pal who was with me (and seeing them for the first time) said “just
press record…they are really good.” The set was short, maybe 45minutes. There
were calls for “more” and “encore” but they really could not as they had to get
to the red carpet themselves. For sure though, this show helped #spreadthesmoke
and gain them new fans.
Have you ever gotten chills from listening to an album? Me neither, well, not until I listened to Eric Church's latest, his first live album Caught In The Act which was released last Tuesday April 9th. The album was recorded over two nights last October at the Tivoli Theatre in Chattanooga,TN.
Truthfully, there is nothing like a live show from Eric Church and his band (trust me I have been to many). They are electrifying....and even that adjective does not do the show justice. Its been said that a good concert is like a religious experience and ECB delivers---every time. So while I was excited about the live album, I was also nervous because a lot of times live albums do not truly reflect the genuine article.
Well, after the opening chants of "Eric, Eric" my unease was put to rest. The guitars opening "Before She Does" take you there. You can imagine being in that theater or the big arenas he plays now and feel it--the energy comes through your speakers. You know that Eric and the band are "emptying the tank" as he likes to say. It is infectious and the music takes you over. He tells you he will give everything he has and asks you to do the same and you know what....I want to give it back even though I'm listening to a record!
The sound on the record is crystal clear. The chants and the screaming and singing of the fans do not overpower the vocals or instrumentation. You can hear Driver and Jeff shredding as good as any member of Metallica could & Craig pounding on the drums. Other member of his awesome band include Lee on bass and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Hyde.
The album also give you a little look at how Eric interacts with the crowd, whether it be telling a little bit about "Hag" or encouraging everyone to sing along on Sinners. One thing a cd cannot do though is let you see how he truly interacts with the crowd, but after hearing this record, I'm sure you'll go to a show for that!
Eric Church wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. He can maneuver from country rock one minute on numbers like "Drink In My Hand" or "How 'Bout You" to a softer side on "Hungover and Hard Up" and "Over When Its Over" (the beautifully sad song where he is accompanied by Joanna Cotten). "Sinners Like Me" done acoustically, showcases how strong Eric is when left to just himself and the guitar...both as a singer and a player. The album ends with 2012 's biggest single "Springsteen" with Eric asking the crowd to "indulge him for a moment" as he remembered his first amphitheater show when he was 16yo. The song is stretched to 9minutes, but ends too soon. You'll be hitting replay though. But for me, the real standout tracks which remind me of why I go back again and again are "Lotta Boot Left to Fill", "Keep On" "Pledge Allegiance to The Hag" and "Smoke A Little Smoke". If you don't hear this record and join this church....well then Ill pray for ya.
Oh Brad Paisley, how I have loved your music. Ever since "Who Needs Pictures" you have fed my soul with fantastic melodies, tremendous guitar playing and your wonderful way with witty, clever lyrics. I eagerly anticipated all of your album releases. I even loved "Play" and the Christmas album. But all of the talk leading up to Wheelhouse left me more anxious than eager. Quite frankly, as a long time fan, some of what I heard about the album actually scared me as to what it might be. Of course I bought "Wheelhouse" on release day (what good fan didn't) and I must say I was really surprised. At first it was not a good surprise. My initial reaction was "what the heck is this" and "where's Brad Paisley", but Brad Paisley is still in there with well written, heartfelt and often clever lyrics and that guitar playing that only he can do. The subject matter is a bit heavier at times (who hasn't heard the controversy over "Accidental Racist"??) And of course many songs are just sonically different than what you expect on a Paisley record: the Mat Kearney part on "Pressing on A Bruise"...LL Cool J....Charlie Daniels on "Karate"....the "Bon Voyage" intro (signaling the trip you'll take listening to this album).....but after a few more listens (maybe 3) it grew on me. I get it. You're older, maybe feel the need to experiment artistically, put yourself and your opinions out there. I mean you don't sing about stepping outside your "Southern Comfort Zone" for no reason. And as a fan I can respect that and will definitely go along for the ride.
The record is different, but I encourage you to listen to it more than once. It's not the album that will be blaring out my car speakers, but there are quite a few gems on there that deserve repeat plays. Standout tracks for me include: "Karate", "Harvey Bodine", "Outstanding in Our Field", "The Mona Lisa", "Pressing on A Bruise" and "Officially Alive" from the deluxe version.
I am such a sucker for a songwriter show. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love a live show by my favorite artists, but there is something special about seeing the actual guys and gals who write the songs you hear on the radio every day (and the great ones you don't). Not only that, but you get to learn-the often hilarious-stories behind them and listen to them sing and play the songs. In NYC I love attending the CMA Songwriters Series, so when I was in Vegas for the ACMs and saw they were having a show with the people who were nominated for Song and Songwriter of the Year, I knew where I had to be. Best of all.....it was FREE. I jumped right in and got my ticket. The show ran from about 930-1130pm and every single moment was utterly enjoyable. And as with any great show, it went too fast.
The evening was co hosted by current ACM Songwriter of the Year Dallas Davidson and four time ASCAP Songwriter of the Year winner Don Schlitz, who together have a massive library of songs to their credit. Joining them throughout the evening were Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, Phil Barton, Jon Stone and Johnny Bulford and lastly Will Hoge.
After a shout out to Dierks Bentley who just played the Party for A Cause, Dallas Davison kicked off the night singing "Gimme That Girl". He also sang "Country Girl", "I Don't Want This Night To End" and "Just A Kiss", among others. He told the funny story of how his Dad texted him to tell him what great lyrics "you're looking so damn hot" are...not. Don Schlitz sang some of the best songs you've ever heard including "The Gambler", "I Feel Lucky" sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter and "When You Say Nothin At All". Another great thing about a songwriter's show is seeing the friendship amongst the guys and watching them joke around. Don would rib Dallas throughout the entire show about being fatuous (look it up if you don't know the meaning). They also make mistakes at times but when they do laugh it off since it's their song and "this is how it is supposed to be played tonight".
Luke Laird and Shane McAnally played songs they wrote for Kenny Chesney and Hunter Hayes, who was not there to come out. However, Thomas Rhett made a surprise appearance and sang Jason Aldean's current single (and one he co-wrote) "1994", complete with TR's signature gyrations for the song which had the audience laughing. Boy, that boy has moves! Shane McAnally tried his moves for "Downtown", Lady A's current single, and also said he didn't realize the many meanings the phrase "take me downtown" had when he wrote it (with Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby).
Next the three "new guys" came out: Jon Stone, Phil Barton and Johnny Bulford. They each sang some new songs, including a lovely number called "Lonely Eyes", plus their nominated song for Lee Brice, his current #1, "I Drive Your Truck". Jon also brought out his female partner in American Young, Kristy Osmunson, and they performed a song together. Everyone sounded terrific, which always makes me wonder why these guys cant have the singing career too if they wanted it?
And last but not least Will Hoge came out to perform "Even If It Breaks Your Heart", a #1 for the Eli Young Band. He also sang his #1 song--in Texas--"Another Song Nobody Will Hear", which speaks the truth that there are so many good songs out there that nobody will hear. He also added that if he lost the ACM, he would be the winner of the Triple Frown...the only writer to lose the CMA/ACM/Grammy for the same song. If it matters, we love the song and think it deserved a win. He also has a cut--specifically track #5 "Better Off Now"--on Lady Antebellum's new record. He told the funny story of how Charles Kelley called him up to tell him how much he liked Will's song and to ask if they can put it on Lady As new album, something Will said he played cool about. By the way, to hear the original song, buy Will's album Blackbird On A Lonely Wire from 2008.
There are artists out there that write their own material, but there are quite a few that don't. So next time you hear your favorite song, check out who wrote it and seek them out on the social media site of your choice and give them some props. They are more than deserving.
Live on Letterman has been giving internet audiences a concert from their favorite artists for a few years now. Past performers from the country world include Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley. This past Monday, The Band Perry gave a terrific 45minute show in support of the new album Pioneer. I had just seen them do a spot for Vevo in the city last week at the Broome Street Bar where they played Better Dig Two to an audience of about 30 people. They were energetic, very personable and sounded terrific (just the three of them and their banjo player). I was excited to see them in a larger, yet still small venue. The trio's energy did not let up from the moment they walked from the back, down the aisle and to the stage. Kimberly Perry as a front woman is dynamic, enthusiastic, sassy and gorgeous. Neil and Reid also displayed both a high energy and comfort level up on stage. They went right into their first number and current single Done and moved effortlessly from country to bluegrass to rock infused numbers throughout their set. They mix it up by adding a rock feel to songs that incorporate fiddle, mandolin and banjo and you know what, it works. and the best part, they still sound country. After You Lie, which Kimberly encouraged everyone to sing along, they played one song off the album which is sure to be a hit and a crowd pleaser live: the Brad Paisley (he also plays guitar on the track) co-written Forever Mine Nevermind. The chorus makes you want to jump up and down and shake your head around in a good way....and teh final line of the song is brilliant. They played a little Ho Hey by the Lumineers before segueing into All your Life which also included some of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You, done country/bluegrass style. More new music they played included I'm A Keeper and Night Gone Waster (with a little bit of Some Nights by fun. added as an intro to the song). They also played If I Die Young, Postcards from Paris and closed with the foot stomping Better Dig Two. The only disappointing thing about the show was the crowd. Although they seemed to enjoy the music, they were not giving back all that The Band Perry gave to them, which I found unfortunate.
TBP must be running on adrenaline this week as they performed for NY radio statin NASH FM on Tuesday and today, Wednesday, they perform a private show for iheartradio in the city, which we were lucky enough to have tickets to.
The iheartradio show was being broadcast live over internet this evening. The crowd, which was largely the same people whom I saw at the other events during the past week, seemed to perk up tonight. They were very receptive to the new material (probably having listened to the new cd) and were raising hands in the air and jumping along especially to the aforementioned Forever Mine Nevermind. Kimberly herself was dancing and moving around like she had energy to spare which was especially impressive in the sky high heels that she was wearing! Neil and Reid again were fantastic, taking their turn to shine on the vocals for Fat Bottomed Girls and Some Nights. The set list from the Live show was very similar with the noted additions of Mother Like Mine and Miss You Being Gone. These siblings have such a great chemistry and
are truly a joy to watch perform.
Do yourself a favor and get the album, then go and see them live, you won't regret it.