Monday, March 29, 2010

Gary Allan @ Joe's bar, Chicago

It doesn't get much better than seeing Gary Allan for free and thanks to Chicago's US99, Blue Chip Casino and Coors Light fans lucky enough to win tickets got another great show at Joe's bar. The line to get in stretched down the block and the place was packed early and after Easton Corbin's opening set Gary came out swinging with the title song on his latest album "Get off the Pain" released March 9Th. Playing a few more tracks off his new album including "Today" and "Kiss Me When I'm Down" and he attempted to run through his long list of hits like "She's so California" and "Watching Airplanes" even stopping one song near the beginning to play another, which tends to make things sound like a medley but thankfully Gary didn't fall into that and it was the only time during the show that happened.
Gary may not write too many songs himself but he is so good at choosing his material that its tough to decipher which songs of his were written by other people. He tries to use the same studio musicians on every album and has a very loyal band with him on tour that is very versatile on a variety of instruments. Much has been written already about the tragic events in Gary's life and three years later he has "No Regrets" but you always get the sense that the past will haunt him the rest of his life and that it goes hand in hand as a protagonist for the material he records. I have never seen Gary Allan live before and have been looking forward to that chance for a long time, he is one of the true artists on a short list of people i still listen to in Nashville and he also is well liked by Texas artists often sharing the stage with bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed. I had hoped for a longer show than the hour and ten minutes Gary gave us but all in all it was a fantastic high energy show that left me willing to see him again next time through.

Easton Corbin @ Joe's

I have to admit that i am out of the loop when it comes to most of the Nashville country artists, i don't listen to the radio much at all unless its on somewhere else. So i had no idea that Easton's song "A Little More Country Than That" was the number one country song on the charts right now. Not since 2003 and a guy named Dierks Bentley has a debut artist and debut song risen to the top of the charts like that. I knew of Easton and i bought his album a few weeks ago but i had no clue he was this popular already. I like his music because its instantly familiar, maybe because of all the George Strait comparisons. Some even say he's the next George Strait, i think its way to early to say that and king George has a lot left in him yet but Easton sure does sound like him.
Growing up on a farm in Gilchrist county in the state of Florida he spent most of his time on his grandparents cattle farm which was a mile from the Suwannee river. As a member of the FFA and 4H he showed cattle at livestock shows but he knew he wanted to sing country music long before that. He credits a local musician by the name of Pee Wee Melton for teaching him to play the guitar. Easton honed his skills in local bands as a lead guitarist and earned himself a slot on the Suwannee River Jam festival. Easton also earned a business degree at the college of agriculture at the University of Florida, got married in 2006 and made the move to Nashville.
Easton is on tour promoting his album and at Joe's he played a short set opening for Gary Allan which was mostly acoustic except for the bass playing of Keith Horn. You might recognize Keith if you are a Luke Bryan fan, Keith has left Luke's band to tour with Easton. Keith said that he is married with a family and likes having a little less time on the road. He also likes that Easton's music is real country in the traditional sense and doesn't lean toward the pop country sound that seems to be getting more complaints lately and i am glad for that myself.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Randy Rogers Band @ Joe's

Thursday March 4th The Randy Rogers Band was back at Joe's and i was looking forward to hearing more polished versions of the new songs they have recorded for their new CD "Burning the Day" which guitarist Geoff Hill said will be released later this summer in June or July but the first single "Interstate" will be released to radio in May. If the songs "Interstate" and "Holding on to Letting Go" are any indication then this is going to be another great album from these guys. Radney Foster produced the last few albums and this time they changed things up and went with Paul Worley. Paul was vice president of Sony BMG records and later was chief creative officer at Warner Brothers Nashville, he is better known as a producer and session guitarist having received Grammy awards for best country album with The Dixie Chicks albums "Wide Open Spaces" and "Fly" and he helped to sign the duo Big & Rich. Paul's recent credits also include production on "Need You Now" from Lady Antebellum.
The guys were nominated again this year by The Academy of Country Music for top vocal group and are back on the road in a brand new custom built from scratch tour bus after taking some time off to record the new album in Nashville and recently completed a successful West coast run through California. I read an interview done a few years ago by Micheal Devers and Lone Star Music magazine that gave some insight into the rest of the band and how Geoff writes some of the darker themed songs but always seems to be the happy guy with the great sense of humor which i noticed was still there even though the guys were pretty worn out from the last few shows. Brady is always up for conversation and meeting new people and we talked a little about his days as a kid on the farm growing up around Amarillo Texas. I didn't see much of Les at all and Randy was around but seemed very tired.
Jon "Chops" Richardson the bass player is the only single guy in the band and so he was downstairs in the crowd and walking around talking to the ladies while we were upstairs talking about music and the good beers that Geoff and i like because earlier in the day i saw a photo he posted on his Facebook page of all the beer in the aisles of the huge Whole Foods market at the end of Weed Street and Kingsbury where Joe's is located. The back of fiddle player Brady Black's T-shirt read "Love Live Music" and these always deliver the goods here in Chicago.