Live Review: Parker McCollum and Randy Rogers Band in Charlotte – 09/08/2018

Two singer, songwriters from the heart of Texas greeted an energetic crowd at Coyote Joe’s on Saturday night…

Football was in the air on Saturday in Charlotte with the hometown collegiate 49ers hosting in-state rival Appalachian State and the Carolina Panthers set to face off against the Dallas Cowboys one day later. However, the Cowboys weren’t the only team from Texas visiting the Queen City as rising star Parker McCollum and the established veteran lineup of Randy Rogers Band (RRB) took over the 103.7 Superstage at Coyote Joe’s.

A late arriving crowd filled the venue just in time for the 26-year old, Austin based, Parker McCollum that earlier this year signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Nashville. Riding the momentum behind his sophomore release Probably Wrong, out in late 2017, McCollum has dialed in to a sound many people gravitate towards while combining it with meaningful lyrics and smooth melodies.

McCollum brought a nice mix of upbeat country in hits like ‘New Orleans‘ and the slower, soulful lyrics from ‘Hell of a Year’ before capping his extremely entertaining 45-minute set with crowd favorite ‘Meet You in the Middle‘.

Not knowing what to expect from a live performance of McCollum, his first in Charlotte, the talented Texas native left no question that he is a rising star worthy of headlining future shows outside of the normal confines for Texas country and red dirt music.

No stranger to venturing outside of their comfort zone, Randy Rogers Band, a staple in the scene took the stage following McCollum. The dance floor was packed with little room left to move once Rogers stepped to the mic.

Greeting fans with classic hits, love songs, drinking songs, goodbye songs, lonely songs and even one titled ‘Goodbye Lonely‘ – which Rogers initially penned after being told to not write anymore songs about goodbye or lonely – the RRB puts on an impressive live performance.

Honing their craft with over fifteen years of experience with the same lineup, RRB is keeping country music alive. No frills, no nonsense – Rogers is a legendary entertainer who has enjoyed success as a singer, songwriter, manager and now restaurant owner after Chopshop Live recently began operation in Roanoke, Texas. A live event space with full food service just outside of Dallas-Fort Worth, Rogers opened the venue on July 14 of this year.

Both entertainers combined to create a memorable experience for everyone in attendance on Saturday as North Carolina is already looking forward to a return from Parker McCollum and Randy Rogers Band very soon – even though the Panthers won.

Parker McCollum SETLIST 09/10/2018

Fake Out
Lonesome Ten Miles
The Truth
New Orleans
Happy New Year
All Day
Misunderstood
I Can’t Breathe
Memphis Rain
Hell of a Year
Silhouette
Meet You in the Middle

Randy Rogers Band SETLIST 09/10/2018

This Time Around
Buy Myself A Chance
Tonight’s Not the Night
Goodbye Lonely
10 Miles Deep
Just A Matter of Time
One More Goodbye
Down and Out
Lonely Too Long
Speak of the Devil
Interstate
Steal You Away
Last, Last Chance
Fuzzy
Tequila Eyes
Satellite
San Antone
Too Late for Goodbye
In My Arms Instead
Kiss Me in the Dark
–Encore–
Trouble Knows My Name

A Perfect Combination: ‘Jam in the Trees’ 2018 Review

The third installment of ‘Jam in the Trees’ took place over this past weekend in Black Mountain…

A surprisingly cool evening for August in North Carolina, even for the mountains, greeted fans and those affectionately becoming known as ‘jamsters’ outside Pisgah Brewing in Black Mountain on Friday night. The beginning to what is quickly becoming a premiere event for the area in only its third year of existence, ‘Jam in the Trees’ continues to exceed expectations.

The star studded lineup featured three intimate sets on Friday night inside the venue as the capacity crowd spilled out into the picnic area toward the food trucks on hand. Outside, preparations for Day 2 could be heard from the outdoor stage, adding anticipation to the event as a whole.

Asheville based singer and songwriter Jane Kramer kicked off the night with a few songs setting a high bar for the evening of music to follow. Quickly capturing the attention of everyone on hand with ‘Truck Stop Stars’ and a few songs from her upcoming album (Fall 2018), Kramer was joined by Andy Buckner on stage before ending her opening set.

The hip hop and bluegrass combination known as Gangstagrass followed, energizing the crowd. A blend of lyrics and song styles thought to have no place in the same realm of music comes together to create an intense live and thoroughly entertaining performance. RSON the Voice of Reason effortlessly composing flawless lines while managing to bring in notations of Asheville and other bands on hand was something to witness.

The evening ended with another Asheville band, Fireside Collective, who had many local fans in attendance. Their upbeat set put an exclamation point on night one, warming up Pisgah Brewing for a full day of entertainment on Saturday.

The festivities kicked off just after lunch for a full day of great music as those returning from Friday and all new ‘jamsters’ were greeted by sets from The Po Ramblin Boys of neighboring Tennessee and Andy Buckner, who was joined by his full band on stage with Jane Kramer adding some nice harmony.

A quickly alternating pace between the outdoor stage and indoor venue kept the music flowing like much of the craft beer on hand – no worries though, PBR is also available in addition to a self-serve water station complete with available cups and its own tap.

Music from the Slocan Ramblers, Lindi Ortega and Jerry Douglas carried patrons through the afternoon before Sirius XM Outlaw Country host Elizabeth Cook pulled up a barstool to the mic inside for an amusing set of her original songs and a few comedic stories.

Outside, Virginia based The Steel Wheels began a run of memorable performances which would ultimately conclude the third annual ‘Jam in the Trees’ leaving only a late night mix of different artists in attendance to literally jam for a bit culminating with Americana icon Jim Lauderdale hosting after performing his own set earlier in the day.

Shooter Jennings and The Travelin McCourys preceded that late night session with the festival’s only back-to-back outdoor stage performances. Jennings led into his set with ‘Bound Ta Git Down’ off his new album, “Shooter” and followed with a few others mixed with some old favorites.

The Travelin McCourys then concluded this increasingly popular event quickly becoming a mainstay of Pisgah Brewing. An awesome atmosphere surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, host venue and lineup created the perfect combination continuing momentum for year four when the ‘Jam in the Trees’ returns.

Live Review: William Clark Green in Asheville – 08/15/2018

‘The greatest party on earth’ recently rolled into western NC for a midweek show…

Fresh off the release of his latest album, Hebert Island – reaching #1 on the iTunes Country Chart – William Clark Green (WCG) and his band took the stage at The Grey Eagle in Asheville on Wednesday night. Opening with the title track WCG set the tone for an upbeat performance with a few ballads mixed in throughout the set list.

Backed by a high energy performance, there were no signs of fatigue from a band that has been touring for the past few weeks in anticipation of the album release as they kicked off an east coast swing with upcoming dates in Washington D.C., New York City and Pennsylvania before returning for another North Carolina date.

Not having played Asheville in quite some time, WCG was appreciative of the crowd on hand and many were familiar with his music. In fact, at one point he mentioned never having the crowd sing his songs back to him (in Asheville) but during the finale of ‘She Likes the Beatles’ the Texas native backed away from the mic and let the crowd take over the chorus.

WCG even shared the inspiration and story behind what led him to write the hit song and how it has changed his life since being released. The details of which will not be shared here – especially with another opportunity to see him perform live and perhaps tell it again in NC so soon.

Having previously expressed his appreciation for crowds who care about the music and artists who take time to both write and cultivate their own unique sound – it was evident there were many on hand Wednesday night who shared in this view.

From the meaningful ‘Old Fashioned’ written for his grandfather to the rowdy ‘Ringling Road’, WCG transitioned smoothly throughout the set backed by a tight band who combined to match the pace set by their lead all evening long.

One of the best live performances witnessed this year, WCG displayed sincere gratitude for all of the fans in attendance. Remaining on stage instead of having the audience cheer for an encore, WCG treated everyone to a few requests before ending the evening.

Taking into consideration that the opportunities for catching a live show are limited in this area, WCG graciously obliged audience requests of ‘Gypsy’, ‘Caroline’ and ‘My Mother’ among a few others.

If you happened to miss out on his first stop, WCG returns to NC on Sunday (8/19) at Puckett’s Farm Equipment in Charlotte. Don’t make the same mistake twice as a few tickets still remain and are available here. You can even pick up a copy of Hebert Island for free by finding Tyler at the merch table and simply asking for an album!

SETLIST 08/15/2018

Hebert Island
Hit You Where It Hurts
Next Big Thing
Drunk Again
Sticks and Stones
Old Fashioned
Ringling Road
Poor
Hanging Around
I Miss You
Creek Don’t Rise
Goner
She Loves Horses
Rose Queen
Still Think About You
Sympathy
She Likes the Beatles

Live Review: Charley Crockett in Asheville – 07/08/2018

The musical vagabond, Charley Crockett, took to the stage on Sunday evening in Asheville…

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a vagabond is someone “who wanders from place to place without a fixed home” and while Texas native Charley Crockett has done his share of traveling across both the United States and world, he may not fit into an exact definition. However, his soulful sound – a collaboration of blues and Texas country sang from a heartfelt location found deep inside of Crockett himself and flawlessly executed on stage while drawing from years of street performing, all combines to produce one of the most entertaining shows you will ever witness.

Many people today attempt to package music into neat little boxes for specification purposes and an ease of finding something one may find interesting. However, there is no containing an artist who decides to push the boundaries of his or her craft and with the availability of music expanding by the day – people are slowly finding that the only category which matters is simply, good music. Crockett, backed by his band, The Blue Drifters, doesn’t fit nicely into country, rock, roots or blues – Americana has recently become the catch-all for anything closely resembling these but where you will find both Crockett and The Blue Drifters firmly planted is within the category of good, quality music.

Taking the stage at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, shortly after 9:00pm and following North Carolina native Valorie Miller, Crockett and his band immediately hooked the crowd with ‘Ain’t Got No Time to Lose’ – the first of a marathon 28 song set that unfortunately passed by all too quickly.

Surrounded by an incredibly talented group of musicians making up The Blue Drifters, Crockett shines in the spotlight with a range of songs capable of taking any listener on an emotional roller coaster throughout any given performance. As concert goers it is often easy to forget that the artists who entertain us have often been on the road for many days, weeks or even months – they have good days and bad like any of us but still must go out in front of crowds and put on a show to make their living.

Having seen Charley Crockett multiple times, he is arguably having more fun on that stage than any other musician currently on tour. Seemingly always in a good mood, his stage presence and live show is something that should be witnessed by any music lover. The recently released album, “Lonesome As A Shadow”, recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillip’s Recording Service is an awesome collection of just a few songs once found bouncing around inside Crockett’s creative mind and set to record – but the live show is something else entirely providing an added level of appeal to Crockett and his music.

There is only one other North Carolina date currently on his tour calendar – Friday, November 9 – with The Turnpike Troubadours at The Fillmore in Charlotte. Make plans now, get tickets here and be in attendance, you’ll be glad you did.

FULL SETLIST 07/08/2018

Ain’t Got No Time to Lose
Look What You Done
Downtrodden Man
Lil’ Girl’s Name
Cold Hearted Woman
How Long Will I Last
I Ain’t Never
If Not the Fool
That’s How I Got To Memphis (Tom T. Hall)
What the Preacher Say
A Dime At A Time (Del Reeves)
The Sky’d Become Teardrops
I Am Not Afraid
Lonesome as a Shadow
I Wanna Cry
Help Me Georgia
7 Come 11 (Benny Goodman)
T-Bone Shuffle
Jamestown Ferry (Tanya Tucker)
Sad and Blue
The Race Is On (Don Rollins)
Ain’t Gotta Worry Child
Out of Bad Luck
Oh so Shaky
In the Night
Silver Dagger
Goin’ Back to Texas
Trinity River

Live Review: Bart Crow in Charlotte – 06/23/2018

Bart Crow landed in Charlotte over the past weekend for a fun Saturday night show…

Austin based singer and songwriter Bart Crow brought his band along for their very first trip to North Carolina last weekend. A brief run down the east coast from New York City, to Washington D.C. and eventually Charlotte, saw Crow and his crew invade Puckett’s Farm Equipment for another entertaining show.

Rising country artist Mickey Lamantia, who was named one of Rolling Stone top newcomers to know back in January, got the evening started with his songs mixed between a few crowd favorite covers.

Bart Crow entered next from the side door and jumped into his set which spanned his entire collection of albums from Finally… to The Parade and everything in between. A receptive crowd saw some take to a makeshift dance floor in front of the stage and many were singing right along.

A few songs into his set, Crow wished a couple in attendance a happy anniversary before dedicating Dandelion, the title track to his 2012 release, to the pair. A nice moment and connection between Crow and his fans from the stage.

The roughly 90 minute set allowed those in attendance to get a good feel for Crow the performer, backed by a solid band featuring lead and bass guitar, drums and a pedal steel. All combining for a sound fitting to his own style, not imitating but forging its own way into and through the music scene.

Crow himself was once a Rolling Stone artist to know over two years ago and it was nice to see the gratitude and appreciation both he and Lamantia showed for one another. Sharing the stage along each of the previous stops for this brief tour, both were complimentary of the other and appeared to have a good working relationship.

Previously playing Charlotte solo in March of 2014, the return of Bart Crow with his full band was a welcome site and one we hope doesn’t take another four years to see again.

Live Review: Outlaw Music Festival in Charlotte 2.0

The Outlaw Music Festival returned to Charlotte with a revamped lineup for a midweek show…

When Willie Nelson walked off the stage in Charlotte just a few weeks ago it left fans feeling a variety of mixed emotions. Some were angry, others disappointed and everyone confused about what exactly was taking place behind the scenes. Nelson had sauntered into view not once, but twice, picking up his guitar and then lowering it again without playing a single note. After a second departure, the show was officially cancelled.

Days later he announced a future return and about a week following the June 20 date became official. Initially it appeared Nelson would again be joined by Sturgill Simpson, who performed originally, but the concert was removed from his tour website just days after being published.

It was obvious Nelson would bring back one or two acts and eventually the pieces fell into place for what transpired to be an amazing lineup. Essentially, those with an original ticket got to see Mitchell Lee, The Wild Feathers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sturgill Simpson and each of the following, including Willie Nelson all under one bill – well worth making a return trip to Charlotte from about anywhere.

SArah shook and the disarmers

The Chapel Hill based Sarah Shook and the Disarmers returned from a tour of Denmark and Sweden just in time for the Outlaw Music Festival and it was a perfect match. Shook captivated an early arriving audience with a few songs off her latest album, Years, which was named one of the best from the first half of 2018 by Rolling Stone and Wide Open Country.

Sometimes the jump from local bars and other familiar venues to a nearly 20,000 seat stadium or amphitheater can be intimidating but Shook’s confidence and sound translated well to the festival crowd on hand. Many in attendance were even chanting for an encore performance following her set, the first of what would be an incredible evening of live music in the Queen City.

jamey johnson

Alabama native Jamey Johnson was next to take the stage and his stripped down set was especially entertaining. Johnson proved he needs only a guitar and his sonorous southern drawl in order to receive standing ovations from any crowd. Electing to never play from a set list, Johnson is free to perform whatever he pleases which included some covers and a few original hits.

The first to make reference of Willie missing his original show, Johnson jokingly commented that he had never known the great one to not perform when scheduled but that it was “still hot” – in reference to the heat and humidity blanketing Charlotte.

Many on hand would have also elected to have Johnson continue singing his songs, but the tight schedule didn’t allow for much wiggle room and his nearly hour long set passed quickly.

the avett brothers

The night’s next performers were a crowd favorite. Hailing from Concord, just a few miles northeast of PNC Music Pavilion, The Avett Brothers joked they could have walked. A draw for many in attendance, the group didn’t disappoint with many up tempo originals and a one special cover.

In tribute to Merle Haggard, the band was joined on stage by Mickey Raphael, playing harmonica, for a stirring rendition of ‘Mama Tried’ much to the crowd’s delight. Both Seth and Scott Avett took turns leading everyone along a musical journey during their 12-song set which featured hits from throughout the groups career.

From ‘Satan Pulls the Strings‘ (2016) to ‘At the Beach‘ (2004) it was evident the band knew their home audience well, making the most of their time to perform and showing a true appreciation for those in attendance.

Willie Nelson

Such a diverse and impressive lineup could only be followed by a few artists in history and Willie Nelson provided that opportunity. His brief entry and exit back in May was entertaining, even without striking a chord and on Wednesday, Nelson appeared both healthy and excited to make his return a memorable one.

As a living legend, Nelson commands attention and was greeted with a thunderous ovation. He waved to the crowd, picked up Trigger (his guitar) and almost immediately struck the first notes of ‘Whiskey River‘ as he has done countless times before.

Always the first song of his set, Nelson continued putting out hit after hit with, ‘On the Road Again‘, ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys‘, ‘Crazy‘, ‘Still Not Dead‘ and ‘Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.’ Nelson even highlighted new music with, ‘Something You Get Through’ off his latest album – Last Man Standing.

Engaging the crowd from his entry and never looking back, Willie made only one brief quip about feeling as though “he had been here before”, attempting to make light of his previous departure.

He more than made up for an early exit previously and Blackbird Presents did an astounding job of piecing together an excellent lineup. A midweek date wasn’t ideal but any time spent seeing someone of Nelson’s status live is well worth the opportunity.

LIVE REVIEW: Reckless Kelly across North Carolina

Back-to-back Reckless Kelly shows made for an amazing weekend here in North Carolina…

The Austin based Reckless Kelly has been turning out hits and entertaining crowds for over twenty years. They’ve traveled to North Carolina before and over time built a following across not only the United States but overseas as well.

With two stops this time around on their east coast tour, those who had been witness to their live performances were excited and ready but the newcomers were also fun to watch.

Beginning the Music In the Mill series of shows for 2018, Reckless Kelly kicked off an exciting lineup, jam packed with talent. Following the Trongone Band, who played in support on Friday night, Reckless Kelly took the stage and immediately began to dole out hit after hit.

An intimate atmosphere allowed for the audience to connect with the band from the start. At one point, in a memorable moment for drummer Jay Nazz, his father joined the band on stage taking lead away from Willy Braun and bringing the crowd along for a ride to ‘Kansas City,’ a cover with more than 300 versions and Friday night’s was special.

In good fun, Willy Braun followed with crowd favorite, ‘Seven Nights in Eire‘ to win back the fans who had supported Nazz’s father momentairily taking over. An encore of ‘Moment in the Sun‘ and ‘Passin’ Through‘ ended the first show in Hickory.

Saturday, a packed Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh greeted Reckless Kelly and North Carolina’s own Corey Hunt Band. Lined up down the street prior to doors opening, the show drew a crowd from across the state and both bands were ready.

Hunt opened with about an hour-long set featuring some popular songs like ‘Song About Saturday Night‘, ‘Uwharrie River‘ and ‘Wild Heart Gypsy‘. Backed by a full band, Hart even added in some audience participation reminiscent of American Aquarium‘s, ‘I Hope He Breaks Your Heart‘ by B.J. Barham, who regularly rocks his hometown Lincoln Theatre stage.

When Reckless Kelly took over, everyone filled the pit but a full balcony and only limited standing room remained. The audience fed off the band and vice versa as Cody Braun led the audience in one before throwing it back to their roots. Celebrating a 20th anniversary of “Millican”, their first album, an amazing live version of ‘Hey Say May – Guacamole‘ filled the middle of the set.

After an 18-song set, the band exited but was almost immediately brought back by a crowd chant of, “Reck-less Kelly” bomp bomp bomp, numerous times over. The guys obliged and a three-song finale concluded their performance with ‘Ragged as the Road‘ and another ‘Moment in the Sun‘.

An amazing weekend of shows with one of the best bands in this particular genre of music who have been putting out quality songs and spreading their sound with relentless touring for over two decades.

As mentioned, Reckless Kelly is no stranger to North Carolina but we’re already looking forward to a return!

LIVE REVIEW: Tyler Childers in Asheville

The Orange Peel was sold out for Tyler Childers, as it should have been…

Tyler Childers proved why is one of the fastest rising stars in the music industry with an exceptional set on Thursday night in Asheville. Weeks prior to arriving, the Kentucky native had sold out shows across the state of North Carolina in Carrboro, Charlotte and the western town finale on a Thursday night.

Be reminded, this wasn’t a Thursday, Friday and Saturday weekend run but a mini-tour through the Tarheel state that began on Sunday, before concluding with Wednesday and Thursday dates. Nonetheless, capacity crowds greeted Childers and his band at every stop.

For good reason too. While the backing of producer Sturgill Simpson on Childers latest album, Purgatory, helped the singer/songwriter gain national attention, his own unique storytelling capabilities coupled with being an amazing musician earned him due credit.

Childers is every bit as impressive in person. Connecting with his audience through songs which range from over indulgence, to past mistakes and triumphant returns – in essence, life. Childers even took his association one step further with a fan from his Charlotte date, justifying both his stories and songs on Twitter as attempts to “convey the human experience.”

Mission accomplished and the crowd on hand was grateful. The evening got going with local group, Town Mountain, who made the most of their set with a blue grass feel and amazing rendition of the classic Bruce Springsteen song, I’m on Fire.

Following, Childers took to the stage and from start to finish was extremely entertaining. Although he referenced maybe enjoying his set in Charlotte the night before a bit too much, the sound and voice were solid and Childers never missed a beat.

However, when it came time for the night to end, it did so rather abruptly. Childers band left him alone on stage with just a mic and guitar. There was no encore and he left following a final solo performance of Lady May which only left the crowd begging for more.

A North Carolina return for Childers in November is already sold out at Music In the Mill in Hickory. It’s a safe bet that anyone who got to experience any one of these three shows quickly gobbled up any available tickets for his return.

Live Review: Whiskey Myers in Asheville

Whiskey Myers transformed the I-40 corridor into east Texas over the weekend…

A sold out crowd awaited Whiskey Myers for their first of three stops across North Carolina last Thursday night in Asheville. At capacity, fans were in position even before Yellow Feather, playing in support and hailing from just down the road in Old Fort, took to the stage.

The Grey Eagle, which hosts both seated and standing room only performances, chose the latter for Whiskey Myers and it made for an up close and personal feel to the show. Yellow Feather, led by Hunter Begley with Casey Kristofferson and Charlie Willis got things off to a great start before the main event.

Taking the stage to the title track off their latest album, Mud, lead singer Cody Cannon and his band set a tone for the remainder of the evening. Even some of the slower, less rock-style songs of Whiskey Myers enveloped more of a southern rock feel in the North Carolina mountains.

Much of the crowd was fully prepared, singing along with Cannon word for word as he gave way to the audience on more than one occasion. The small room and close quarters created loud renditions of many songs but especially, ‘Bar, Guitar and a Honky-Tonk Crowd’ as The Grey Eagle, which hosts a variety of different music from all genres transformed into just that on Thursday night.

The tight performance from a band well traveled kept their energy all evening and seemingly offered similar live performances across the state. Whiskey Myers even expressed their own gratitude for the Carolina crowds that greeted them each night of the tour.

An authentic, high energy performance highlighted by signature songs which blur the lines across many genres but create their own unique sound – Whiskey Myers left the Asheville crowd and all of North Carolina entertained and anxiously awaiting their next run toward the east coast.

FULL SETLIST 05/31/2018

Mud
Early Morning Shakes
Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd
Broken Window Serenade
Lightening Bugs and Rain
Deep Down in the South
Headstone
Virginia
On the River
Frogman
Bill
How Far
Ballad of a Southern Man
Home
Stone
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (The Rolling Stones)

Live Review: Outlaw Music Festival in Charlotte

The Outlaw Music Festival stop in Charlotte included some surprising changes both prior and during the event…

Initially advertised as a Willie Nelson headlining festival featuring star power from top to bottom, the Outlaw Music Festival in Charlotte underwent quite a transformation prior to kickoff. Two artists, Brandi Carlile and Elvis Costello withdrew their names from the bill before the scheduled date leaving Blackbird Presents, the production company responsible for the event, with a few absent time slots to fill.

Just a few days prior to the show it was announced that start times had been delayed, presumably due to the shuffling of artists and bands which were scheduled to perform. Finally, it was announced that Mitchell Lee would get things started at 4:10pm, almost an hour and a half later than the originally published time to begin.

While the top of the bill changed, any event anchored by Old Crow Medicine Show, Sturgill Simpson and Willie Nelson wasn’t going to disappoint. After Lee, a band on the rise, The Wild Feathers, took to the stage and made the most of their opportunity – being a late addition to the ticket.

Old Crow Medicine Show

As 6:30pm rolled around, OCMS took over with an impressive and energetic set which raised the bar and took the event to an entirely different level. Their shear range of musical talent was spectacular as members switched from guitar, to drums, keys, fiddle, bass, and even an accordion – self described by Ketch Secor as a “squeeze box”.

The band was joined on stage by world renowned musician Mickey Raphael, best known for his harmonica playing alongside Willie Nelson, for a Nelson cover and then their own hit song, Wagon Wheel.

Sturgill Simpson

Next up was Sturgill Simpson and his commitment to letting the music speak for itself continues. There were no bright flashing lights, smoke machines or anything else on stage to distract from the musical experience about to take place.

Just Simpson, who stood side stage as opposed to front and center, and his band composed of drummer Miles Miller, bassist Chuck Bartels and Bobby Emmett on the keys.

A highlight of the evening was when Simpson addressed the audience with 20-plus minutes remaining in his set. He said it was enough time for three to four more songs or two really good ones. Immediately, it was decided on two really good ones and Simpson proceeded to play essentially non-stop to complete the set with a small break between songs and bits and pieces of a few others. His guitar skill on full display, it was a memorable moment that would soon be unfortunately overshadowed by what was about to happen.

Willie Nelson

Scheduled to take the stage at 9:40pm, Nelson entered just a few minutes late with his band. He walked toward Trigger (his famous guitar) and immediately picked up and put down his signature red, white and blue guitar strap. Following, he circled the stage and exited.

Initial thoughts were that something had not been set up properly or he had forgotten something backstage. However, as time passed the eery feeling something was wrong crept over the crowd. Eventually, Nelson would return to a huge ovation.

This time, he managed to pick up Trigger but replaced it on the stand before angrily removing his hat, tossing it to the crowd and exiting again. Time passed and as the 11:00pm curfew drew close, it was finally announced that the show had been cancelled with an official announcement of Nelson being “under the weather”.

The reactions of those both in attendance and on social media varied considerably. People demanded refunds (patrons were told to keep their tickets) and resorted to name-calling while others defended the legend.

Willie Nelson is 85 years old and we should be appreciative that he remains committed to touring and allowing new generations to experience his expertise. It was disappointing to not hear the first notes of Whiskey River or any other hits but his health is the ultimate concern and there is no shame in Nelson electing to not put himself into a dangerous situation.

Nelson performed his scheduled show on Sunday night in Washington D.C. at an indoor venue as the Charlotte weather could have definitely played a factor in the cancellation. Reports were Nelson was having a hard time catching his breath at the Raleigh show on Friday night and it was extremely humid on Saturday (Simpson commented on the humidity playing a factor in tuning his guitar all set).

While there will likely never be an exact reason given for the abrupt departure – speculation has ranged from being disappointed with the crowd, lineup and other factors – the good news is that Nelson was able to put on a show the following night and may return to make amends in Charlotte at some point in the future.