On February 2nd, 2019 I attended a Dylan Scott concert with Seth Ennis as his opener at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Seth Ennis had a quick half hour set to start off the night. He played mostly his original music along with a mashup of songs from those he had previously opened for. Overall I thought Seth did well and was very dedicated to his music because he drove 14 hours from Nashville to play for 30 minutes and then 14 hours back. One disappointment was during his song "Woke Up In Nashville" he was off pitch for the chorus which made it much less enjoyable. My favorite part of Seth's set was his song "Call Your Momma" because a lot of people in the audience Facetimed their moms and Seth brought phones up on stage and sang to the them. This was a super powerful moment that will stick with me forever. Dylan Scott had a very creative opening in which the screens showed a video game like set up loading the concert. This really built up anticipation and let the fans know exactly when he would come out. Dylan began with his hit song "Hooked" to get the crowd pumped up and ready with a tune we all know and love. Some of my favorite moments were when he sat at the piano and sang some of his older, less known songs in a very ballad-like way, when the drummer (Darrick Cline) got to solo and blew me away by his incredible talent, and lastly when Dylan sat down and did covers of older country music. I admired how Dylan played a couple of unreleased songs because it can be risky, but I feel that it gets fans ready for what is coming out soon. One thing I did not love was that the bass was very over the top for most of Dylan's set. During multiple points throughout the show I was unable to hear him, especially during the times he would talk to explain a story which was unfortunate. All in all I loved both Seth and Dylan because they both seemed very humble and put everything they had into the show and that is highly admirable, so if you get the chance to go see either of them I would definitely recommend it!
Yesterday I attended the Alabama concert at the AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minnesota. This band has been on my bucket list of concerts to see, so it was an amazing opportunity! For those not as familiar with the band they are arguably the best country music band in existence. They have over 40 number one songs and have won an unbelievable amount of awards and honors. The performance I saw had 2 of the 3 original members. I had a wonderful experience at this concert and would highly recommend everyone to see Alabama if they ever get a chance. The band was pretty energetic considering some of them are getting older which was really impressive and definitely added to the excitement. I also really enjoyed when they had confetti shoot out during the song Mountain Music because it was really unexpected and lively. One of the awesome things about this concert was because they have had so many hit songs everyone in the audience was really involved. Considering Alabama began in 1969 and had its most success in the 80's, I was surprised with the age of the audience members because it involved people of almost every age. I really appreciated the effort put in by the entire band because there were many additions added through the many years and all came together really well, sounding very similar to the original band. My favorite moment of the night is when the lead singer, Randy Owen, sang the song Angels Among Us, this is such a heartfelt song and I could tell he meant every word he was singing. The atmosphere of the arena was so powerful yet touching during this song 25 years later can make everyone of every generation felt the words and all came together to sing this beautiful song. Overall I was tremendously impressed with Alabama because of the high energy, all of the members (new and old), and the stunning rendition of Angels Among Us.
This weekend I attended Ramble Jam in Farmington, Minnesota which is a wide open field on the county fair grounds of a small town. On Friday night 32 Below, a band from North Dakota, kicked off the festival with a boom. They performed some of their own music including "Sea of Beer Cans", "You, Me, and the Whiskey" and more. They also covered Brooks and Dunn's "Brand New Man" and more. Bryan Loweree, the lead singer, did a fantastic job at engaging the audience and keeping the energy strong throughout. The band as a whole has a very rock country feel that could really get people dancing and singing along easily. They also gave out free t-shirts and bracelets to the audience which is always a good way to promote themselves and actively engage with the audience, getting them really excited. 32 Below exceeded my expectations because they were highly entertaining with their energy got the whole audience pumped up for the next artist and the headliner. The next artist to take away the stage was Chris Hawkey, a local Minnesota artist, anyone that knows Chris knows that he can do anything he sets his mind to. He is a local radio DJ, father, country artist, and overall amazing person. Chris always puts on a powerful show because he puts everything he has into his shows over and over again. He sang a few of his originals including "Favorite Song", "Good Liar", "Northern Lights", "Cherry Hill" and more. I have seen him many times and I highly recommend everyone to check out Chris Hawkey's work and see a show if you can because he will always put 100 percent effort into it. The headliner for Friday night was Michael Ray. Overall he did a good job at engaging with crowd, but at times he was a little off pitch which could be distracting at times. I appreciated his effort to dance around and get really involved in the music because it made him seem like he was really having fun up on stage. Michael sang mostly his songs including "Fan Girl", "Kiss You in the Morning", "I'm Gonna Miss You", "Real Men Love Jesus". "One That Got Away", "Her World Or Mine", "Dancing Forever" and more. Throughout his performance he made a lot of efforts to take pictures with the audience and touch their hands which was a really cool experience for many. Saturday afternoon Lauren Duski set the stage for an amazing night. She sang a lot of unreleased songs as well as her her first single "Costume Party". Lauren seemed to be a bit self-conscious and had minimal confidence that held her back. I believe she could have been more entertaining and had a stronger voice if she trusted herself more, but her voice has a lot of potential. Her band was really impressive because they all looked so focused, but at the same time enjoying themselves while playing well. Jon Langston followed Lauren and put on an incredible show. His band overpowered him a little bit, but it didn't take too much away from their performance because Jon was so involved and gave it his all regardless. He sang some of his original music such as "Prob'ly At A Bar", "When It Comes To Loving You", "She's So Georgia", "Forever Girl" and a few more. Towards the end of his show he sang Toby Keith's "Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue" bringing the whole crowd together in a true American pride song. At the end of his show he went around the audience signing autographs and taking pictures which makes the artist much more personal and relatable. The next performer to keep the powerful energy was Morgan Wallen. I have seen him before so I had some high expectations and I was still blown away by his performance. He has a much more powerful voice then he lets on and you only get to see it in concert which is such an amazing experience. He sang mostly his own songs including "Happy Hour", "The Way I Talk", "If I Know Me", "Whiskey Glasses", "Up Down" and much more. He also did some really great covers such as Brooks and Dunn's "Play Something Country", Linkin Park's "In The End", King Leon's "Use Somebody", Fall Out Boys "Sugar, We're Going Down" and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me". His mashup of all these songs really made him stand out because he appealed to a wide variety of people and actually did really good covers of these songs. Morgan's energy up on stage is electrifying and he never fails to amazing me and everyone else at his concerts. The headliner for Saturday was Justin Moore. From the moment he took the stage you could feel his genuine happiness to be there and he put everything into his show. I was very impressed with his extremely accurate pitch as well as his high energy performance. He did many of his own songs including "You Look Like I Need A Drink", "Somebody Else Will", "Kinda Don't Care", "Til My Last Day", "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away", "Lettin' The Night Roll", "Small Town USA" and much more. For his encore he did Prince's "Purple Rain" and "Point At You". Justin made sure to give all his guitar picks to the kids at the show which was super fun to watch them inspired at such a young age. He and his band all have exceptional musical ability in many instruments. This was my second year going to this festival and as for Ramble Jam as a whole this year, I thought the line up was pretty good, the artist were mostly really engaging and entertaining, and every band was very impressive in showing off their skills with guitar riffs, strenuous vocal ability, thrilling drum solos and more. I would highly recommend this festival to any country music fan because it always ends up being the highlight to the end of festival season.
Jonathan Freeland grew up in Georgia listening to classic country artists as well as 90s country. In high school and college he was involved in pop-punk bands as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist until he found his sound and pursued his solo career in 2015. His brand new EP includes the songs "Young and Proud", "Summer of '10", "I Don't Mind", "The Way It Goes", and "Outsider". Jonathan kicks off the EP with "Young and Proud". The beginning of the song has a highly catchy vocal excerpt of the chorus before the other instruments are involved. After that fun start, a powerful violin initiates the beginning of the song. The lyrics are very pertinent to many people explaining what it is like to be young and chasing your dreams as many have successfully done before. The song as a whole has a rock-country feel which suits the lyrics well because being young is a wild and fun experience. The next song on the EP is "Summer of '10". One of the things I noticed was the keyboard which adds a nice touch to the melodic line and makes the song softer. The guitar riff contributes to the rock-country feel in this song. I found the instruments to all blend really well and the lyrics are memorable, making it an easy song to sing and dance to. Overall the song would be a great one to see live because it is so rhythmically pleasing and energetic. The third song off Jonathan's EP "I Don't Mind" has a beautiful introduction. The guitar adds a very chill vibe to the song contributing to the somber energy of it. It is more of a traditional country song, because of the lyrics about relationships, and the classic country instruments throughout. The violin towards the end of the song, after the strong chorus, creates power but also elegance. "The Way It Goes" is the EP's fourth song. This is the most traditional country song off of the EP. Lyrically it is more deep than his other songs, reflecting real relationship problems. It also shows a softer side of Jonathan that makes it even more relatable because most people have been through a similar situation. As for the melodic aspect, the drums, the guitar, and every other instrument are a good way to show the many emotions that can be associated with breaking up with a significant other. All things considered I think this song is a great breakup song because it shows all the ups and down associated with the end of relationship. The final song on the EP is "Outsider". This song is definitely heavily influenced by his prior music experience because it has a rock/ punk chorus. It also has many elements you would typically see in rock such as the back up vocals shouting, much of the instruments are the same and much more. The song does a very good message about being your own person and not conforming to society. Altogether, the song has a powerful meaning with strong music backing up the message. As for the EP as a whole, it is not everyone's type of country music, but it defiantly has some traditional country elements. Jonathan Freeland has a unique sound to his voice that can be heard throughout all of his music. The EP all together has a sound that is a little new to country music, but has a lot of potential to make a breakthrough for other artists. It also has a good balance between fun and real life songs. The EP also has a variety of instruments that capture many audiences. Lastly, the captivating lyrics along with the potent melody lines have the ability to make this an incredible live show.
This past Saturday I got free tickets to attend a Filmore concert at the Amsterdam bar and hall in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In the past year I have listened to Filmore frequently and saw him at Country Thunder music festival in Wisconsin a month ago. Filmore is not your typical country artist, from his loose clothes to his man bun he does not look like most country artists. He currently has one album and seven singles released. While my friend and I were waiting in line outside the venue this homeless man approached us and moments later Filmore's aunt and uncle showed up and assisted us (being from a smaller town, this rarely happens to us). Aunt Rosie was one of the sweetest people I've met, after helping us outside she introduced us to Filmore's parents who were also really sweet. On our way up to the stage Filmore was talking to his family in the middle of the venue and greeted us as we walked in. This venue was the smallest and most intimate I had ever been to. There was about 20 people, including some of his family, in this whole venue therefore it was a very personal experience compared to when I saw him at a large festival. Filmore began his show with one his unreleased songs "Speed Limit". I could immediately feel his strong energy and passion. His stage presence is very similar to Sam Hunt whom he had previously toured with and I'm sure learned a lot from. As an up and coming artist he performed all of his songs except "Typical". He covered a wide range including Keith Urban's "Somebody Like You", The Killers "Mr. Bright Side", Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance", Ben King's "Stand By Me", Sam Hunt's "House Party", and Garth Brooks's "Friends in Low Places". His covers were not anything special, but they were definitely fun to sing along to. A few times throughout his performance Filmore's band would drown him out, but other than that he sounded exceptional. For Filmore's encore he sang his song "Unreal" which was a great song to end on because it is very energetic. After the show Filmore and his band ran their own merch table which was impressive because not many bands do this. Filmore took pictures and spent time meeting all of his fans, he even gave out free can koozies which he signed for everyone. Overall I was very impressed with this spirited show and how kind Filmore and his family were.
My friend (left), Filmore (center), Kylie Hainka (right)
Filmore's performance of " You Know You Wanna" at the Amsterdam bar and hall
Kylie Hainka's reviews on country music concerts, festivals, popular country songs, and much more.