Highway Poets CD release night is finally here. Heavily promoted for months prior leading up to this evening. Opening for the Poets, John Courage Trio, Kingsborough and a surprise guest.
First up, John Courage Trio. A big sound, quite obviously driven by raw musical passion. For me, a bit reminiscent of what I've seen in footage of Jimi Hendrix in many ways. I've always caught the tail end of Johns sets, but tonight I made it in time for nearly the whole thing, and I am so glad I did....WOW, it was powerful! I love it when I'm not expecting greatness and a fantastic performance blows me away, completely unexpected. And the John Courage Trio brings greatness to the stage in sound, passion and musicianship! As far as the trios' sound...I think they're a mix between Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz, They could've easily been playing at the Oracle Arena, opening for Van Halen, AC/DC, The Stones or The Who. The John Courage Trio music is heavy hitting rock n roll. Johns finance, Ashley Allred joined the band on stage for a couple songs...she was equally amazing, and the combination of the two was positively electric! Chemistry abounding. The JCTrio performed for about 30-40 minutes, and for me, every minute was mesmerizing! Towards the end, John announced that this will be the last performance of his fiancé Ashley and him before they get married next week!
After seeing The John Courage Trio properly this time, I can say that in my opinion, all of the bands playing tonight, may be playing nationally and internationally sometime in the next few years. I've always said that about Kingsborough and The Highway Poets. These are just the types of gigs that I say, see them now, because in the not too distant future the venues will only get bigger for these truly amazing bands! This show was just an example of the rich musical talent, so plentiful in Sonoma County.
Up next, one of my favourites, Kingsborough, from Santa Rosa. Not much to be said about this band that I haven't previously written in a couple past articles. (See articles from 8.10.17 and 7.8.17). Kingsborough is a solid, 4 piece band made up of Billy Kingsborough lead vocals and guitar, Alex Leach guitar, Chris Mangione Bass and bringing it all together with John Whitney on drums. A genuinely lovely bunch of young fellas that have their shit together and seem driven to 'make it'. Their mainstream rock n roll is catchy and tight. Their onstage performance is always great, energetic and powerful. They now have a good team behind them, and I have confidence they will make it to the big time, musically. Their well produced album, '1544' is excellent...definitly worth a listen...once you hear it, you too will be hooked onto the Kingsborough sound. Check out 1544 here and try to catch Kingsborough next time they play at a venue near you...I've seen them a dozen or more times and they never disappoint. Kingsborough, always giving their all and always well worth catching live!
After Kingsborough, Sebastian, from Highway Poets introduced a surprise guest, Sean Hayes! Hayes performed two songs, both stunning. This wasn't my first time seeing Sean Hayes. He headlines all over the Bay Area. Singer songwriter solo act usually. Another music guy that always sings well, always a pleasure to hear. And if you like the singer songwriter thing, you should like Sean Hayes. You may remember, in 2010, he had a super popular song called, "When We Fall". It got lots of airplay on triple A stations across the country.
After the two songs by Sean Hayes was the headliner for the night....The Highway Poets. Tonight the Poets were an eight piece band, I've seen them as a six piece, three piece and Sebastian St James as a solo...All good, all slightly different incarnations. The Poets did a two hour set, complete with a fab finale of, "get by with a little help from my friends" bringing out John Courage Trio, and Kingsborough to the stage. Always my favorite part when these three get together on one stage! So much talent at one time in one song...a beautiful thing to witness! The Highway Poets are definitely worth catching. I haven't yet heard their album, but I imagine its a goodie. Sebastian St James has a smokey beautiful voice thats so versatile. He can pull off any ballad as well as any hard hitting rock n roll. They started off a punk band, then morphed into bluegrass. Now, The Highway Poets seem comfortable in their rock n roll sound. The Poets have an eclectic sound somewhere between the Stones and Pearl Jam. With hints of Soul, Funk, Pop, Bluegrass, and a big chunk of pure ol' fashioned gritty rock. The core of the Highway Poets are, Sebastian Saint James - vocals & guitar, Travis James - guitar & vocals, Taylor James - bass & vocals, Rhyne Erde - on drums. Still holding onto the versatility of all the genres they bring to the stage. Its always clear the The Poets love what they do. I believe they'd play for as long as the venue allows. They make it obvious that they love making music together, and are enjoying the show as much as the people having big fun on the dance floor!
Upon leaving the venue, in the wee hours, whilst making my way to my car, I heard this wonderful voice in the air, it sounded to me like the band, The Record Company or Kaleo...so I did an about face and headed to the street to find this lovely busker called Tyler McCourtney. Tyler is a 29 year old musician from Santa Rosa and he does busking all around Sonoma County. Tonight, lucky for me, he was busking in Petaluma. Tyler used to be a member of the band, Buck Thrifty. He's a super talented one man band. Sitting atop his home made giant cajon, (box drum), with one foot one a washboard, a harmonica perched upon his neck and banjo in hand...he's so entertaining. Whilst busking on Saturday, he made enough money to buy a ticket to The Mystic and a couple of beers, and then some. He left the show early to set up his one man band close to the Mystic so the audience can have the pleasure of his music upon leaving the venue. McCourtney has a voice, and passion many musicians would give their right arm to have! He was clever and fun. He sang on the fly, narrating about the walkers by and those of us who were watching him. He also covered songs with a clever spin, with very clearly his own versions of them. Very different than the originals, and all excellent! Tyler McCourtney also goes by the name Banjo Boombox. Check him out!
One day real soon, I'm hoping, he will be discovered by a very savvy music producer.