I am not a music critic. I don’t play one on television. But I do see a lot of bands and have a pretty good track record of guessing which ones will last and which wont–sorry William Hung and Taylor Hicks! Blue Sky Riders has staying power and if you get a chance to see them perform, jump at the chance before it is too late! I had just the chance last night at the Rams Head On Stage.
Now, to be fair, the band has a leg up. Two of the three frontmen, Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr are songwriters extraordinaire with an impressive pedigree including hits sung by Keith Urban, Tracy Lawrence, Faith Hill, Randy Travis and more. The third frontman is a bit of a household name–Kenny Loggins. So, they are not a typical bunch of 18-year olds starting up in a garage as Loggins joked last night.
But what set them apart was their performance. This trio, with their backing band were having a blast! They were having a great time with themselves, their audience, and the music. And when there is a genuine love for the performance, it shows. It resonates. And the audience at the Rams Head On Stage ate it up. In their blog, they were critical of the show and the flaws that became evident (to them) after a great soundcheck. Who knew? And really, is live music supposed to sound any particular way? If I wanted to listen to a lip-synched version of a Britney Spears video, I can stay in my home with my Bose headphones and my plasma television. Live music, for me, is all about the nuances of the performance including the screw-ups.
The band was all over the audience and played up Loggins’ notoriety. Gary Burr commented that they call it the “45 Degree Tour” because when he looks out, he sees all the heads in the audience turned 45 degrees looking at Loggins.
They played three sets last night spotlighting their new album which is set to release in January 2013 and some of their individual achievements including Return To Pooh Corner (Loggins), I’m In (Middleman), and Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me (Burr). But, the real star of the show was the new stuff by Blue Sky Riders including Brave, Dream, and the amusingly titled How’s That Working Out For You.
The show went on for about 2 hours and the capacity crowd of 300+ was clamoring for more as they tried to leave the stage (encores are tough at Rams Head On Stage with a big band because the stage is not that large) and they came back with a scorching version of the Beatles‘ Help. The song has been sung by many bands over the years, but Middleman’s scratchy, soulful vocals brought a completely different sound to the classic. Take a listen:
While this tour is a short pre-release tour, you will be hearing more about Blue Sky Riders in the near future. If you get the chance to see them, don’t hesitate–do it. You won’t be disappointed.
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All images © 2012, Glenn A Miller Photography (go on, give it a like)