Brent Cobb Pulls Double Duty With Acoustic Shows In Atlanta, GA

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Mar 022020
 

By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace

I had the chance to catch Brent Cobb’s A Night Of Fine Acoustic Country Music Tour this past Wednesday night February 26th, 2020 in Atlanta, GA at Terminal West.  Brent Cobb actually had two shows this evening due to the initial show selling out quickly. These were duo shows featuring Brent on acoustic guitar and his regular guitar player Mike Harris on electric.  It was set up like the two were on their own front porch picking songs and hanging out with a few hundred friends. The opening act for this tour is Maddie Medley. I didn’t have much experience with her music before the show.  She only has one song out on Spotify with the promise of more to come soon. She played the same set both shows so I will cover her music once.

Maddie Medley was a solo act for these shows with an electric guitar.  Her voice is deep and rich and her songs are very personal. A stand out was “Edith” which she says is about if she has a daughter.  She sings about the things she would teach her future daughter about and how she would raise her in this world. The song she ended with was “Coming Of Age” which is the song you can hear on Spotify.  It’s a bit more upbeat than the rest of her set, but still a very personal song that looks inward. I hope to be able to hear more of her music in the near future.

Brent Cobb’s set began shortly after Maddie Medley’s set and you could tell it was going to be a fun evening from the start.  It was a very loose affair and the first show of the evening even had no set list. He kicked things off with a brand new song called “Keep ‘Em On Their Toes” which you can hear a snippet of in a video from the recording sessions of his next album on Twitter.  From there he got into a couple of songs from his last new album with “Mornin’s Gonna Come” and “Sucker For A Good Time”. Mike Harris was a great accompaniment for this set as he made the smooth songs still slow and smooth and the rocking songs still rocked out.  I particularly enjoyed hearing “Solving Problems” in this setting and the story that went along with it. Brent did another new song called “Shut Up And Sing” which I got a video of. It’s got a great message to it and I hope lots of folks hear it. After a rousing rendition of “Digging Holes”, Brent got a request from the crowd for “Old Shit” which is a song he wrote that Miranda Lambert recorded.  It was great hearing his version of this song and it’s refreshing to see an artist take requests in a setting like this as long as the audience is respectful about it.

I particularly enjoyed this version of “Providence Canyon” stripped back.  It was very smooth and laid back. We got another new song in “Soapbox” in the first set.  Brent does have a new album coming out in the fall and after hearing these new songs live, I’m particularly looking forward to having them on a record.  We got a version of “Black Crow” from the No Place Left To Leave album and it’s cool hearing those older songs live some 14 years after they were initially released.  From there, we got a cool instrumental segway into “Let The Rain Come Down” which was eventually recorded by The Steel Woods. I’m torn on which version I prefer, but Cobb’s acoustic version is great here.  A highlight of the early show was Brent Cobb doing a rendition of Tenacious D’s “Tribute” into “Down In The Gulley” when it got to the part in “Tribute” where you have to play the best song in the world. It was a great off the cuff moment that is what fans come to these stripped back acoustic shows for.

When it came time for the second show, those who were staying for both had to go back outside and come back in with the new crowd of people who were not here for the first.  Maddie Medley performed essentially the same set as she did the first time around so I won’t rehash that. Brent Cobb however performed a different set with a few duplicate songs but an almost entirely different order.

Brent started things off with another new song which I think was called “Ain’t That Enough” before going into one of my favorites from the Shine On Rainy Day album called “Traveling Poor Boy”.  There was also a rendition of “Come Home Soon” from Providence Canyon in the second set that was nice to hear here. There was another new song in this set called “The World Is Ending”. This was my personal highlight of the night.  Sometimes you hear a brand new song live and it just floors you. I’ve had that experience a few times with different artists and I cannot wait to hear this one on the album and for everyone else to hear it. From there, an audience member surprised Brent with a song he said no one requests from the Providence Canyon album called “Lorene”.  I was happy to hear this one live as it’s been a recent favorite of mine and it should be a regular part of the set list, especially on a stripped down acoustic set like this.

I can’t say enough about Brent having Mike Harris on guitar for these shows.  He adds another element to the sound that makes these more than just your regular acoustic sets.  This is especially apparent in heavier songs like “High In The Country” and “.30-06”. Mike Harris got to rock out on these numbers with extended solos and killer riffs that kept these songs rocking but still stripped down from what you would normally get in a full band setting.  The night ended with Brent Cobb starting up “Richland” from No Place Left To Leave before changing up to the slower, appropriate closer of “South Of Atlanta”. I was happy to finally get to hear this one as it’s one of my favorite Brent Cobb songs from any of his records.

I highly recommend going to this tour if it comes near you.  Brent Cobb is a great performer and entertainer in this unique setting.  The tour is set up like two guys picking on their front porch in front of a few hundred friends and it comes off like that.  You get to know Brent between the songs and get to know a little about the songs that you might not hear otherwise. If for some reason you can’t make it out to this tour, there is apparently a new record coming in the Fall for folks like me who can’t get enough Brent Cobb.  I’m already looking forward to the next time I get to see Brent Cobb live because it’s a good show whether it’s stripped back or full band.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom and get the dates for the rest of this tour.  You can also check Brent’s website for the most up to date tour information.

 

Live Review – Mike and The Moonpies In Macon, GA

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Jan 292020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Photography By Joshua Wallace

I was able to see Mike and The Moonpies live in Macon, GA on January 25th, 2020 which was a Saturday night.  This concert was at The Creek Stage at The Rookery which is a restaurant in Macon. They convert a dining room into a concert hall when they have concerts scheduled.  It’s a very intimate venue and a very unique setting. I hope to go back to The Rookery sometime soon to eat as it looked like a very good restaurant. I arrived at 09:30pm on a Saturday night and it was packed.  You can’t say that about many places these days. This show was actually billed as the after party for a show that was happening at the Hargray Capitol Theater which is down the street from The Rookery. That show was Robert Earl Keen with Aubrie Sellers as the opening act.  I was only here for Mike and The Moonpies though and they got things kicked off at 10:45 pm with no opener. The small room filled out pretty quickly. The Moonpies put on a great show as they always do. This band gets better every time I see them.

The band kicked things off with “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em” and “Damn Strait”, the latter of which is my favorite track off The Hard Way album and is always fun to hear live.  When the band got into “Getting High At Home” and “Steak Night At The Prairie Rose”, you could tell this would be a fun crowd as they were singing along with both songs. In fact, this crowd favored pretty much everything from Steak Night At The Prairie Rose and the new album Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold.  The band still played through the older stuff and I especially loved hearing “El Camino” from their The Real Country album. We got a great Merle Haggard cover with “Working Man Blues” before the band got into material from the new record.  

I was happy to hear “Young In Love” and “Miss Fortune” live this time.  I feel like those are two underrated tracks from the stellar new album. “You Look Good In Neon” was another hit with the crowd as it turned into a sing-a-long.  This was amazing as the last time I had heard this song live, the record was barely out and no one knew the track. You could say the same for “Danger” too which is another mega popular track from the new album.  “Beaches Of Biloxi” is also always a popular live track with bass player Omar’s seemingly random crowd participation bits. The band then got to the title tracks of both 2012’s The Hard Way and the new album Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold.  The latter of which was another sing-along with the crowd. From there, they did “London Homesick Blues” and their cover of Fastball’s “The Way”. I used to love that song back in the 90’s and until Mike and The Moonpies did it, I had not heard it in a long time.

The band did a great version of “Bottled Beer” off their first album which concluded with Omar’s tease of the famous bass line from Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”.  The fans that know that song always pop for it. They wrapped up the regular set with “We’re Gone” and “The Real Country”. The band played a great closing jam before coming back to the stage for covers of Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” and Rusty Weir’s “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance”.

I highly recommend seeing this band live in smaller venues while you have the chance.  I don’t think we will have that opportunity for very long. This band is a very tight live band and they have such a charismatic stage presence that not many have right now.  Omar Oyoque is one of the best bass players you can find in a country band and is a highlight of every show. Mike and The Moonpies are currently playing in Key West, FL as part of Mile 0 Fest.  If you’re in the southeast, your next chance to see them will be at the Standard Deluxe in Waverly, AL for the 20th Anniversary of the “Old 280” Boogie on April 18th. You can find details of that event here and check out the band’s website for more tour information and where you can find out when they are coming near you.

Live Review – Tyler Childers with Liz Cooper and The Stampede in Atlanta, GA (Night 1)

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Dec 302019
 

By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace

Earlier this month, I got the chance to check out Tyler Childers on his Country Squire Run.  This show was the first of two nights in Atlanta, GA on December 21st, 2019. He initially sold out this date during pre-sale and they added a second date on Sunday December 22nd.  I was only able to get a ticket for Saturday night, but I know both nights were amazing sold out and packed shows. This is kind of crazy to me because the last time I saw Tyler Childers was on March 28, 2018 at a small venue in Florida that only held 300 people.  This show was a huge upgrade from that at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA which holds around 2600 and was packed. The opener for this two night run in Atlanta was Liz Cooper and The Stampede and I will start with their set.

I honestly did not know what to expect with Liz Cooper and The Stampede.  I had listened to some of their music on Spotify and they appeared to be a psychedelic folk rock trio.  On this evening, they leaned more to psychedelic rock. From what I have been told, they played new material so we didn’t get any songs you would be familiar with such as “Mountain Man”.  Most of the songs were heavier rock tunes that went into psychedelic jam territory. I did enjoy their groovy bass player and you don’t always find bass players with the skill this guy has.  I somewhat enjoyed their set, though I don’t know if their choice of material matched the expectations of a crowd awaiting a country singer like Tyler Childers. I look forward to the chance to see them live again in the future.

Tyler Childers came out and got right into it with “Honky Tonk Flame” from his amazing 2017 album Purgatory.  This lead to other tracks off that album like “Universal Sound” and “Born Again”. The first cover song of the night came in the form of a great tune called “Tulsa Turnaround”.  This was a Kenny Rogers cover and I loved hearing Tyler Childers and The Food Stamps do it. Up next we got the title track off his newest album called “Country Squire”. This is one of my favorite tracks off the new record and I was glad to hear it live. In fact, this song started a run through the entire Country Squire record which was awesome to get live.  A real highlight was the live version of “House Fire”.  Tyler picked up an electric guitar for this song and kicked it off with a long instrumental called “Reuben’s Train”.  From there he did an awesome version of “House Fire” that is actually much better than the recorded version and is a song you must hear live.  I also know he doesn’t do “Matthew” as part of his sets every time and this felt special to get the entire album here.

“Matthew” also began the acoustic run for this show which included “Nose To The Grindstone”, a rare “Banded Clovis” and “Follow You To Virgie”.  It was amazing hearing the sold out crowd singing along to older tracks like “Follow You To Virgie”. I would say the crowd was just as much a part of this show as the band was.  Following this acoustic run, we got a second cover of the night with the awesome Bobby Charles song “Tennessee Blues”. This is a wonderful cover that not many in the crowd will be familiar with.  I’m happy to see Tyler covering these obscure classic tunes.

After that cover, we got a run of 3 big songs from the Purgatory album.  This included “Feathered Indians”, my favorite from the record “Whitehouse Road” and “I Swear (To God)”.  Following that song there was a brief break before the encore. I say this is brief because while the lights went down, the band never left the stage.  The crowd knew what was happening though and gave Tyler one of the loudest reactions of the night. He finished the evening with a Charlie Daniels cover that he often does called “Trudy”.

If you get a chance to see Tyler Childers, I highly recommend it.  His stock is only rising and I fully believe his next headlining US tour will be in amphitheaters and arenas instead of large theaters.  In fact, he’s already doing a run of opening dates next year with Sturgill Simpson and this tour is going through and has already sold out some of the nation’s biggest arenas.  Tyler still has one show left in 2019 on New Years Eve in Pikeville, KY with Todd Snider and Darrell Scott opening. If you can’t get a ticket to that one, get a ticket to one of his shows opening for Sturgill Simpson.  You can find all of his upcoming dates at his website. While you’re there, check out his new record titled Country Squire which features in many best of 2019 lists including my own. This was my final show for 2019 and my final show of this decade.  Look for more live show and festival reviews in 2020.

Live Review – Colter Wall with Wade Sapp in Macon, GA

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Dec 112019
 

By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace


Colter Wall and The Scary Prairie Boys

This past Thursday night (12/05/19), I was lucky enough to see Colter Wall at the Hargray Capitol Theater in Macon, GA.  Over the years, this has become one of my favorite venues and I’ve seen acts like Sturgill Simpson, Whitey Morgan and now Colter Wall there.  This was my first time seeing Colter Wall since seeing him at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville, FL back in 2017. That place holds about 300 people.  I would say he came close to doubling that number tonight. The floor was packed out fairly well by the time the opening act started and the balcony looked about half full.  The opening act this evening was Wade Sapp who is a country singer out of Atlanta, GA.

Wade Sapp

Wade Sapp hit the stage with a full band which was a surprise as I was expecting an acoustic opening act.  His full band featured a lead guitar player, bass player and drummer. It was a simple set-up, but it worked.  His guitar player Ryan Tolson was awesome and a big compliment to the overall sound.  The rest of the band featured Paul Wagner on drums and Adam Higgins on bass.  Going into this set, the only song that is truly out there is “Keep On Truckin’” which was released as an “OurVinyl Sessions” live version.  Wade played a full eleven song opening set. I’m not sure if this set was the entirety of his debut record coming out next year or not, but it felt like it. Of those eleven songs, only one was a cover. He closed the night with a killer version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs”.  Other highlights include originals such as “SOB”, “Beer Drinking Daddy”, “Smoke” and “Bleeding Blue”. If you go to one of the shows remaining on this run, be sure to go early and see Wade Sapp.


Colter Wall solo acoustic

After Wade Sapp, there was a short wait before Colter Wall took the stage.  He started the show off with a few acoustic songs before the full band joined him. The first song of the night was an old Bob Dylan cover called “Diamond Joe”. He followed that up with one of my favorites from the EP Imaginary Appalacia called “Caroline”.  The great thing about this is the crowd got into it and did some foot stomps in time with the song. You could tell this was going to be a fun night.

I was happy that he kept the acoustic intro to “Thirteen Silver Dollars” as that was one of my favorite parts of his set with the Speedy Creek Band.  From there he did my favorite of the two songs he released on a 7” record earlier this year called “Happy Reunion” by singer/songwriter and cowboy poet Mike Beck.  He also did an extended version of “Motorcycle” with an extra verse written by Blake Berglund. From there he got to the first of several newer songs called “Western Swing and Waltzes”.  This was a great track and I can’t wait to hear a recorded version on the next album. I loved the cover he did of Bob Wills’s “Big Balls In Cowtown”. Later on in the set he also did a cover of my Marty Robbins song off the album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs called “Big Iron”.  I loved hearing this one live and his band did it justice.

Another new track in this set was a song called “Have You Met My Friend” about Sam Colt.  From there he got to one of my personal favorites from his self titled LP called “You Look To Yours”.  At this point he introduced the band which consists of pedal steel, dobro and mandolin player Patrick Lyons, harmonica player Jake Groves, drummer Aaron Goodrich, and bass player Jason Simpson.  I must say this band fully compliments the sound Colter Wall is creating with a sound that can go from upbeat country to western swing to western folk. Following the band introductions they did my favorite track on the “Songs Of The Plains” record called “Thinkin’ On A Woman” which was the second trucking song of the night.  From there he did a cover of the Stan Jones western classic called “Cowpoke”. I love his version of this song and Colter just has a way with these old western tunes that just comes natural.  He also has an amazing yodel that really gets to shine with this performance.


“Kate McCannon”

There was also a great version of one of my favorite Townes Van Zandt songs in “White Freightliner Blues”.  This was followed up by “Plain To See Plainsman” and another obscure cover with Ian Tyson’s “The Coyote and The Cowboy”.  Colter closed out the regular set with possibly his biggest mainstream hit in “Sleepin’ On The Blacktop”. The crowd wasn’t ready to be done though and we got an encore with another new song called “High and Mighty”.  These new songs sound great with the Scary Prairie Boys and I can’t wait to hear them on a record.

This was my first experience with Colter Wall’s new band The Scary Prairie Boys.  It feels like a more versatile set-up than the roots based sound of his original Speedy Creek Band.  This band also fits the current direction of Colter Wall’s sound which is including more elements of western music including western swing and folk.  Colter Wall and Wade Sapp still have a few nights left in this December run through the southeast. You can find all remaining dates at the band’s website.  You can also keep up with Wade Sapp at his website.  I highly recommend checking them out and if you do go to a show, come early for an amazing opening set from Wade Sapp.

Live Review – Atlanta, GA’s ATLive welcomes Eric Church, Luke Combs and more

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Nov 212019
 

By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace

This past Sunday November 17th, 2019, I had the opportunity to see Eric Church, Luke Combs, Brothers Osborne and Caylee Hammack live at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.  This was the second night of the ATLive concert series promoted in Atlanta by Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s AMB Sports and Entertainment. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this night was a sell out with 52,414 fans.  This was one of the biggest crowds I have ever been a part of for a music concert and it was an amazing night of good country music.

Caylee Hammack opened the night.  She was probably the most pop oriented singer of the evening.  She didn’t get a very long set and maybe did 5 songs. She did originals like “Preciatecha” and “Family Tree”.  She also did covers of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. I came out of her set feeling sort of indifferent to her music as she did some good covers, but her originals didn’t really grab me.  I was however, pumped for the rest of the night.

The Brothers Osborne mentioned that this was their last show of the year and they couldn’t have picked a bigger crowd to do it in front of.  The band kicked off their set with “Drank Like Hank” which is one of my favorites off their last studio album. They rely heavily on long jams during their set and John Osborne is one hell of a lead guitar player in that respect.  The longer jams help space out their more pop leaning songs through their set. During the nearly hour long set, they got to songs like “Shoot Me Straight”, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)”, “Burning Man” and wrapped it up with “It Ain’t My Fault”.  This last song was a killer jam that I feel like lasted at least past the 15 minute mark. There was an epic keyboard solo followed by John’s longest solo of the night. This song is one of those epic closing songs that will make anyone a fan that sees this live, even if you were on the fence throughout the rest of the set.

Luke Combs was the first double headliner for the night.  He played an hour and fifteen minute set full of hits and songs from his new record that are sure to be hits in the future.  This wasn’t a full set you would get at one of his own concerts, but I feel like we only missed a small portion of his usual set.  He came across very humble on stage and very real. The band kicked the night off with one of my favorite tracks from his first album titled “Honky Tonk Highway”.  He then immediately went into the hits with one of his biggest in “When It Rains It Pours” and you could hear the entire stadium singing along. In fact, it was like this the whole set for Luke Combs.  

Some highlights included the hit song “1, 2, Many” where after the line “So whatcha say we shotgun one?” he actually paused for a bit to shotgun a beer before going back to the song.  He performed “This One’s For You” largely acoustic before the band came back out to finish the song with him. He did one of my favorite tracks off the new record titled “Angels Workin’ Overtime” and I’m sure that one will be a hit at radio.  

Speaking of radio hits, Luke Combs announced that “Even Though I’m Leaving” is his 7th straight number 1 at country music radio.  That is an amazing run for any singer, let alone someone who is only on his second full album. He closed the set out with a Brooks and Dunn cover of “Brand New Man” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart”.  Before playing his final song, he announced that due to a bet with his keyboard player who was from Atlanta, he had to wear an Atlanta Falcons jersey for the final song of the night. Atlanta played his time the Carolina Panthers and beat them soundly earlier that day.  This was the first time I had ever seen Luke Combs live and this set only made me a bigger fan. I can’t wait to see him again but hopefully more up close next time.

The final act of the night was Eric Church.  I had seen him perform previously on the “Holdin’ My Own” tour in 2017 where he performed two sets in one night so I knew we were in for a long evening still.  He kicked the night off at the front of the stage on acoustic guitar doing a rendition of “Drowning Man” from his latest record Desperate Man. Eric Church’s live band brings a heavier rock and roll sound to the proceedings so it’s no surprise that he does things like add a tease of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” to the end of “Smoke a Little Smoke”.  He also did an exceptional version of “Creepin’” from his The Chief album with his lead guitar player Jeff Hyde handling the dobro for the song. Before he got to one of his older hits “How Bout’ You”, he discussed playing a smaller venue in Atlanta called Wild Bills and how crazy it was to be at a sold out Mercedes Benz Stadium on this evening. Also, during “How Bout You” he did a full cover of Waylon’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and a tease of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” before closing out “How Bout You”. 

He performed one of my favorite songs called “Mr. Misunderstood” largely acoustic before the band joined him again halfway through the song.  It is my strong opinion that Eric Church is at his best in a more intimate acoustic setting. Following that, he kicked off a series of a few of my favorite songs of his.  He did a great tease of an “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” cover. Then he went into a string of songs that included “Cold One”, “Record Year” and “Round Here Buzz”. He did a spot during “Record Year” where he signed vinyl records that fans had around the stage.  He held up each one to the camera, including a vinyl record of Bruce Springsteen’s famous Born In The U.S.A. album which he signed. Before “Homeboy”, one of his guitar players came up front and did an awesome metal interlude with the band that was the heaviest bit of music of the night.  The set also heavily featured the vocal talents of his back-up singer Joanna Cotten. She was featured on the track “Mixed Drinks About Feelings” which features Susan Tedeschi doing a verse on the album cut. We got an amazing dueling guitar solo during the closing moments of a rousing rendition of “Pledge Allegiance To The Hag” that was awesome.  He closed out the night with “These Boots” where he signed a bunch of boots around the stage and one of his most popular songs in “Springsteen” which he says is his ode to a moment and the influence music can have on that moment and the power of a song to take you back to a specific moment in time. I know many people who were at this show will go back to this particular moment in time when they hear any of these songs that were played this night.  He came back out for a one song encore of the Jackson Brown song “The Load-Out” which is a perfect encore song for any band.

This was an amazing night of performances and while no one got to do a full set, it was a full night of great music.  Eric Church and Luke Combs were of course the highlights, but Brothers Osborne was awesome as well. I didn’t really get a chance to hear much of Caylee Hammack with her short set.  Overall, this was a great night and I can’t wait to hear many of these artists again. You can find out a full tour itinerary for all of the artists involved in this show on their respective websites.

Live Review – Ward Davis, Lucero and Cody Jinks in Albany, GA

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Nov 122019
 

By Joshua Wallace
All Photography By Joshua Wallace


Ward Davis

This past Thursday on November 7th, 2019 I had the chance to see Cody Jinks live with Lucero and Ward Davis as opening acts.  I arrived at the Albany Civic Center shortly after 6pm.  That was the time printed on the ticket and on everything on social media, so I assumed it meant doors were at 6pm.  Nope, the show started at 6pm and I could hear Ward Davis already going as I got my ticket at Will Call. I walked into the Civic Center as Ward was playing “Old Wore Out Cowboys” from his 15 Years In A Ten Year Town album.  This song normally features Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson on the record, but this time we had an early guest appearance from Cody Jinks who graced the stage for a verse in the song. The crowd was still filling in at this point as like me, I assume most people thought the show started at 7pm.


Ward Davis feat. Cody Jinks

Ward Davis put on a good set this evening with tracks like “Get To Work Whiskey” and his cover of “Big River”.  He also got around to “Good and Drunk” which is my favorite track off the Asunder EP he released last year. He rounded out the set on the keys playing tracks like “15 Years In A 10 Year Town”, “I Got You” and a rousing rendition of The Eagles hit “Desperado”.


Ward Davis

Lucero was up next and I admit, I’m not the biggest fan of theirs and I was hoping to get a better feel for the band in a live setting, but it didn’t work out that way this evening.  Between Ward and Cody, they were kind of the odd band in the sound mixing department and I don’t think that worked in their favor. I did pick up on a few songs they played like “On My Way Downtown” which is my favorite track from the 2012 Women and Work album. Ben Nichols did a stripped down version of what I think was “The War” from the 2005 release Nobody’s Darlings.  They also did “Texas & Tennessee” from their 2013 EP of the same name. They also played a newer song called “Hello My Name Is Izzy” which has been released as a single. They finished the set with a track from the 2002 release Tennessee titled “The Last Song”. I hope to be able to catch this band live again soon and catch a full set next time.


Lucero


Ben Nichols

You could tell this crowd is ready for Cody Jinks by the time he hit the stage.  Before we get into Cody’s set, I have to commend whoever was playing music before Cody came on.  They mixed classic country hits with songs from current artists like Paul Cauthen, Alex Williams, Whitey Morgan and others who many in this crowd might not have heard of as Albany, GA is a fairly new market for Jinks.


Cody Jinks

Cody Jinks started right away with music from his new records.  He kicked the set off with “Same Kind Of Crazy As Me” from The Wanting.  This set was heavy on new tunes, but he plays a long enough set list that you still get everything you want.  Speaking of the set list, he is doing something interesting with his set lists as of late. He has lines with two songs listed instead of one.  It seems like these are parts in the set where he has two songs in the same key lined up and can select either one. This is a very cool way of doing things.  It gives the band flexibility to read the room and it potentially gives fans a different experience each night instead of just having the same old set.

Jinks then went on with the title track off the Lifers album and followed that up my personal favorite off that record “Big Last Name”.  More new songs followed with “Tell Em What It’s Like” and “The Wanting”. After those tracks we got into “I’m Not The Devil” which had a special appearance from Ward Davis who sang a verse.  Albany, GA was also the site of the very first live version of “Where Even Angels Fear To Fly”. I really dig this one live and it is quickly becoming a favorite of mine off The Wanting album.


Cody Jinks feat. Ward Davis

We also got another favorite track of mine off The Wanting album with “Which One I Feed”.  I was especially looking forward to this one as it was one of my favorite preview tracks leading up to the albums release.  More new music soon followed with “Ain’t A Train”. This song is huge for the fiddle solo that hits you hard every time it drops in the song.  Well, the live band does not have a fiddle player so Austin “Hot Rod” Tripps grabs a dobro instead. While it’s a good track live, it’s just not the same without that hot fiddle solo.  Jinks mentioned that this is one of his most upbeat setlists he’s ever done before going into one of his biggest tear jerker tracks in “David”. It still hits hard in a live setting.


Cody Jinks and The Tone Deaf Hippies

Another new track followed with “Wounded Mind”.  This isn’t one that I had anticipated hearing live, but it’s a good one.  It’s a very good deep cut from The Wanting. Up next we had “Holy Water” from Lifers and “Think Like You Think” from After The Fire.  There is a bit of irony singing a song like “Think Like You Think” in front of a drunk and rowdy crowd on a Thursday night, but it’s a damn good song live.  “Cast No Stones” was one of the highlights of this night for me. It’s one of my favorite Jinks tracks overall, but this is especially good live as he brings the house lights up for an extended sing-a-long with the crowd.  “Must Be The Whiskey” and “Hippies and Cowboys” closed out the regular set. “Must Be The Whiskey” is a huge fan favorite off the album Lifers and it feels like a hit every time I hear it live. Jinks came out for a two song encore which included the acoustic leaning “The Raven and The Dove” and one of his biggest fan favorite songs “Loud and Heavy”.

This was my third time seeing Cody Jinks live and his show never disappoints.  From seeing him at the Ryman a couple of years ago to this show, he keeps getting better.  He’s upped his showmanship a lot recently. He picks out kids in the crowd and gives them guitar picks and acknowledges signs and interacts with the crowd in a meaningful way.  A lot of independent artists don’t do this level of crowd interaction but it is a must for bigger stages and crowds. Cody Jinks is riding high and the sky’s the limit. He’s always on tour and I can’t wait till the next time I get to see him live.  You can find out if he’s coming to a town near you at this link.

Florida Welcomes Josh Ward at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville, FL

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Aug 212019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Photography By Joshua Wallace

This past Thursday evening on August 15th, 2019, I had the pleasure of finally seeing Josh Ward live.  I have been a fan of his since his 2015 album Holding Me Together. I was a big fan of his 2018 release More Than I Deserve.  I have been waiting for a long time to see him come through Florida. He opened for Cody Johnson in the state before, but this was the first date of his first true headlining run in the state.  The crowd for the evening was somewhat small at around 50 – 75, but they showed up for some good Texas country music and that is what they got.

J.R. Ward opened the evening with a set of mostly original tunes.  This was my first time seeing J.R. Ward and I was impressed. He played some songs I recognized from Spotify such as “90 Proof Sunrise” and “Turn Your Eyes To Jesus”.  Tom Bennett backed him up on keys. J.R. mentioned that he’s not a usual feature in his live show but I thought Tom did a fine job on it. There were a couple of Waylon Jennings covers sprinkled in the originals.  All in all, it was a good set and a good first impression. I hope to see more of J.R. Ward in the future.

Josh Ward wasted no time in kicking off his own set shortly after J.R. left the stage and everything was swapped out.  He kicked the set off with a song from his Holding Me Together record “You Don’t Have To Be Lonely”. This track set the pace for a rockin’ night of good country music that did not disappoint.  He followed that up with one of my favorites “Home Away From Home” from his More Than I Deserve album. Up next was another favorite in “Whiskey and Whitley”. This was one of many ballads throughout the night.

A bit later in the set he got to a couple more favorite songs of mine back to back. Both are highlights from the More Than I Deserve album.  “All About Lovin’” was a rockin’ number for the ladies and he slowed it down a bit with “A Cowboy Can” which was well received by the live crowd.  I must point out the pedal steel player whose name I missed during band introductions. He was a highlight throughout the evening and a joy to watch play.


Another highlight of the evening was the band’s live rendition of “The Devil Don’t Scare Me”.  This is probably the best cut on the More Than I Deserve record and it’s chart performance shows that.  Josh mentioned how proud he was of this song and pointed out that the guy who wrote it, Jason Hursey was in the crowd.  This track is every bit as good live as it is on the record. This band does not disappoint.

The band closed out the night with two more favorites.  First up was a rocking rendition of “Highway” from the Holding Me Together album and finally the band closed the night out with my favorite Josh Ward tracks in “Promises”.  From the first song to the end, this band was on point and in the mood to bring some good Texas country tunes to this crowd. The crowd wasn’t as big as what they would expect in Texas, but they brought it and surely made the band feel like they were back in Texas with the responses they from the crowd.

Josh Ward is always on the road.  He just wrapped up his first headlining run through Florida and Josh is constantly on the road.  You can see his current tour dates at the band’s website.  However, if you can’t make it to a live show, he did just release  his own contribution to the Live At Billy Bob’s Texas series and I highly recommend you check it out.

Sunny Sweeney at Ashley Street Station In Valdosta, GA

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Mar 062019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Photo Credit : Joshua Wallace

On February 23rd, 2019 we were lucky enough to have Sunny Sweeney down here in Valdosta, GA at the local dive bar called Ashley Street Station.  I had just seen her open for Cody Jinks at a sold out Florida Theater in Jacksonville, FL for nearly 2,000 people and this was a much different show.  This was a much more intimate, more rowdy and more rockin’ set.  Ashley Street Station holds around 200 or so on a good day and this was a good crowd.  The night opened with W.D. Miller playing some original tunes followed by local singer Jen Anders.  Following that, Sunny came on and rocked the house for about 2 hours straight and it was a good time.

W.D. Miller 

W.D. Miller started the evening off and played a few tunes off his 2018 album “Burnt Bridges and Broken Hearts”.  He played originals such as “Samael (My Name Is Sam)”, “Barroom For A Shelter” and “How In The World”.  One of the highlights was during “Samael (My Name Is Sam)” when W.D. went off mic and his voice filled the room with song.  Jen Anders followed with another short set.  Her set contained mostly cover tunes mixed in with an original or two.  The covers Jen did were all in her acoustic style and she got the crowd ready to go with her acoustic renderings of familiar songs.

Jen Anders

Sunny Sweeney took the stage shortly after Jen Anders and got straight into it with the first new song of the night called “Tie Me Up”.  She played about 5 new songs in this set list and each of them sound amazing.   I for one cannot wait for her next album.  She also got to some highlights from her last album Trophy with tracks such as a couple of favorites of mine, “Pills” and “Pass The Pain”.  I love the stripped down guitar version of “Pass The Pain”.  It’s a different sound from the original and I like when bands can bring something different live.  She also did a great cover of Don Williams’s “Tulsa Time” which I enjoyed.

Sunny Sweeney and Harley Husbands lead guitar, Adrian Myers drums, Dillon Sampson bass guitar

At some point in the set, the band requested tequila shots.  This is a common occurrence at a dive bar, so nothing new here.  At some point later, shots turned into bottles, again nothing unusual around these parts.  Things got interesting when the band discovered a scorpion in one of the bottles of Jose Cuervo.  Sunny challenged a member of the audience to drink it for a free t-shirt.  You know what? Someone actually did and it was crazy.  These are the kinds of things that can happen when you see someone at a small dive bar such as Ashley Street Station.

Sunny Sweeney and a bottle of tequila on the floor

The band got to some other newer songs on the set list as well including “Body In A Box Car” and “I Drink Well With Others” which will appear on her next album.  She also got to some deeper tracks like “Uninvited” from her Provoked album and “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving” from her 2011 release Concrete.  This deeper set was heavy on tracks from her Trophy album as the band also got to “Bottle By My Bed”, “Better Bad Idea” and “Nothing’s Wrong With Texas” to name a few.  It wouldn’t be a Sunny Sweeney show without the radio hit “From A Table Away” which is also one of my favorite tracks.

Sunny Sweeney brings new tracks to Ashley Street Station

One of my favorite newer tracks that Sunny is playing live now is called “Poet’s Prayer” and she dedicates it to artists playing out on the road.  On this night, she dedicated it to W.D. Miller who opened up the show.  She ended the set with a great rendition of “Bad Girl Phase” from Provoked.

I highly recommend seeing Sunny Sweeney live in a setting like this while you still can.  Her stock is rising and it won’t be long before she is headlining big theater shows like Cody Jinks is.  She is actually just starting a run of opening dates for Bob Seger’s final tour.  After that, she is always on tour and you can find her current dates at https://sunnysweeney.com/.  I hope you get out to a show.