Written by Dave Clements
A couple of weeks ago we were sitting in the awesome Woodlands Pavilion (recently ranked #1 in the top 100 amphitheaters in the world!) listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd rocking the sold out crowd with their hit Sweet Home Alabama. Fast forward to this past Saturday, and here we are again with the group Alabama Shakes rocking it out with a sound uniquely their own. Their refreshing brand of ‘soul rock’ is no copy of any other southern band I know.
Before I go into more about the headliner, let me tell you a little about the opening act. Corinne Bailey Rae came to us from ‘across the pond’ from Leeds, West Yorkshire in Great Britain. I confess I wasn’t familiar with her music but will be listening to her from this point forward. She is extremely talented with a beautiful voice. Her presence on stage is almost ethereal with floating hand jesters and frequent smiles. This extremely attractive performer knows how to engage the audience! I was mighty impressed with her and the band she had assembled for the night’s show. The photographer to my left, who I have shot with many times in the past, enthusiastically applauded for her after we finished shooting the first three songs. First time I had ever seen him do that, period! And I wanted to also but my hands were full and I was dragging back because I didn’t want to stop shooting. Hope I captured all that was her!
Now back to ‘Sweet Home’ Alabama Shakes. This group is from Athens, AL, about half way between Birmingham and Nashville. They started their musical journey in 2012. Their momentum has been growing ever since, big time…as well it should! They are the real deal and I predict it is just a matter of time before they are selling out the Woodlands Pavilion. On this night there was almost 7,000 in attendance and it was clear the majority were fans and knew they’d get a powerhouse show. They already qualify in my book to draw an SRO crowd but I guess all in due time.
I can’t believe I wrote a paragraph about AS without mentioning lead singer and kickass guitarist Brittany Howard. She has a larger than life and over the top persona packed with musical talent. I think the expression I’m looking for is that she has ‘great pipes’. Think one part Janis Joplin, one part Aretha Franklin, one part Beth Hart…with a sprinkling of Ann Wilson, Wynonna Judd and Pat Benatar thrown in just for fun!
They kicked off their set with a tune called Future People, then rolled right into Dunes and Hang Loose. That’s all it took for this crowd to be totally sucked into their music, loving every note, including my wife and me. Adding to the enjoyment, the band is tight, looked like they enjoyed each other, and the feedback they felt from this appreciative crowd of 7000.
What a treat to be able to witness the professionalism and generosity of both of these performers! No doubt that the crowd tonight will be sharing with friends what they missed this Saturday night in The Woodlands, TX.
Until next time remember to keep on keepin’ it between the navigational beacons, every chance you get.