Manhattan’s Country Stampede Day 2 Recap

COUNTRY STAMPEDE – MANHATTAN, KANSAS

JUNE 24, 2016 – Tim McGraw, Chris Janson, Josh Abbott Band, High Valley, and Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys

by Austin Earl

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It was a lazy Tuesday afternoon in Manhattan, Kansas. With the temperature being 104°, there was nothing I wanted to do outside, so I played around on Twitter and sent an innocent Tweet to Dierks Bentley and Chris Janson. With their upcoming shows in Manhattan, I wanted to inform them that this future fish biologist could show them some good spots around town to catch white bass and walleye. Janson responded with the most unexpected, best Tweet I have ever received.

The tickets were for Day 2 of Country Stampede. Stampede is the largest music festival in the state of Kansas, and brings out the big names of country. Headliners this year included Sam Hunt, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw and Jake Owen. The Day 2 artists were Gunnar & the Grizzly Boys, High Valley, Josh Abbott Band, Janson, and McGraw. Will call was having problems finding our tickets, so we missed most of Gunnar & the Grizzly Boys.

High Valley exceeded my expectations. They had a good bluegrass feel in a lot of their songs and entertained the crowd well. They were very interactive and did not look awkward like a lot of artists that are in a similar career stage. They went full bluegrass while playing I’ll Fly Away and their talent was evident. They also showed some Florida Georgia Line-esque music with their song County Line. If they stick to their bluegrass roots they could be a very entertaining band for crowds in the future.

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For me, the day really started when Josh Abbott Band took the stage. JAB has always been one of my favorite acts since I heard the song I’ll Sing About Mine for the first time a couple of years ago. The “Band” portion of the namesake put on a great show. The fiddle player had a crazy amount of talent. Unfortunately, Abbott’s voice just wasn’t there for him. I do not know if he had a cold or what was going on with him, but he could not hit the high notes that makes his range so impressive on the studio albums. In fact, he sang all of the chorus of Amnesia down an octave. As an entertainer, he was very good. He was energetic, brought out a t-shirt cannon, and made fun of the Kansas Jayhawks—always a welcome pander in Manhattan. I would be interested in seeing him again at some point to see him with his full voice.

After JAB finished, it was finally time for Chris Janson. Many people only know Buy Me A Boat, but Janson has a lot of good cuts on his debut record. The hour and a half long set let him showcase those songs as well as play some of his favorite older songs. I had heard rumors about his crazy antics on stage, so I had high expectations for his show. He did not disappoint. Janson was absolutely electric on stage. He said “you’re about to see 135 pounds of skinny white dude play a harmonica like you’ve never seen” and then he did exactly that. His vocal range was as ridiculous as his harmonica playing. He doesn’t sing high all that often on stage, but he covered Merle Haggard and hit every note in the song. He also played an oddly fun punk rock version of Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash. He interacted with pretty much everyone along the stage, signing hats and talking directly with the people. While singing Buy Me A Boat, he brought four little girls up on stage and had them sing with him. He lit up the stage and looked like he had just as much fun as anyone at the festival.

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The headliner Tim McGraw finished up the day. I was personally most excited for Janson coming into the day, but it hit me about five minutes before McGraw took the stage that he was someone I’ve listened to since I was two. Words to his songs were some of the first words I knew in any music. He was one of the influential artists that helped foster my love for not just country music, but music in general. When you’re a 49 year-old with 52 number one hits, you can basically send your band out there alone and the crowd will sing all of your songs for you. McGraw didn’t do that, thankfully, but he did let the crowd sing most of his old songs’ choruses. It was kind of chilling to hear how many people McGraw’s music has touched as almost every person—from 16 to 60 year olds—in the crowd knew every word. As someone who would like to get into making music and performing, it was amazing to see how an artist can transcend generations. McGraw had a lot of energy and made the concert fun, but the star of his set was his music rather any antics. At this stage in his career, it would impossible for that not to be the case.

Overall, my girlfriend and I enjoyed a wonderful day of diverse country music in the middle of a field. To me, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

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Josh Abbott set list:

1.     Road Trippin’

2.     Live While You Got It

3.     Hangin’ Around

4.     All of a Sudden

5.     I’ve Been Known

6.     Touch

7.     She Will Be Free

8.     Where’s the Party?

9.     Taste

10.  She’s Like Texas

11.  I Just Wanna Love You

12.  Flatland Farmer

13.  While We’re Young

14.  Callin’ Baton Rogue

15.  My Texas

16.  Wasn’t That Drunk

17.  Oh, Tonight

18.  Amnesia

19.  Highway to Hell

Chris Janson set list:

1.     Back in My Drinkin’ Days

2.     Redneck Revival

3.     Eastbound and Down

4.     Better I Don’t

5.     Save a Little Sugar

6.     White Trash

7.     Country Boy Can Survive

8.     Holdin’ Her

9.     Love This Life

10.  Dancing in the Dark

11.  Corn

12.  Footlights

13.  Yeah It Is

14.  Good Hearted Woman

15.  Right in the Middle

16.  Buy Me a Boat

17.  Ring of Fire

Tim McGraw set list:

1.     How Bad Do You Want It

2.     Green Grass Grows

3.     I Like, I Love It

4.     California

5.     Southern Girl

6.     Real Good Man

7.     Red Rag Top

8.     Here Tonight

9.     Just to See You Smile

10.  One of Those Nights

11.  Mexicoma

12.  Shotgun Rider

13.  How It Will Always Be

14.  All I Want is a Life

15.  Indian Outlaw

Encore

16.  Truck Yeah

17.  Something Like That

18.  Live Like You Are Dyin’

 

Dave Matthews Band Celebrates 25 Years of Music in Connecticut

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DAVE MATTHEWS BAND – June 11, 2016 – Xfinity Theatre – Hartford, CT

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Dave Matthews Band took to the Xfinity Theatre stage in Hartford, Connecticut this past Saturday night to celebrate twenty five years of turning themselves into one of the biggest touring acts on the face of the planet.  This night, per usual in New England, the show was sold out.  And one of the best things about this DMB crowd was that there were people of all ages, from teenagers to people in their 60s.  And that is a testament to who they have become as a touring act as they have not changed their jam band sound along the way, and it appeals to generations abound.

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Each and every setlist at a Dave Matthews Band show is different and full of surprises. I have been to approximately seven of their shows dating back to my first in 1999 and I’ve always appreciated the diversity of songs from all eras of their career chosen to be part of their shows.  To me, this shows true showmanship and musicianship in a live act.  Nothing is worse than the artist who goes out and performs the same practiced setlist night in and night out, with no surprises or nothing to keep their fans guessing.  And this night was no different.

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Right off the bat, DMB sunk their teeth into Pig and Proudest Monkey, followed by one of their most commercially accepted songs, Crash Into Me, all from their earliest albums.  But then the song selections jumped from their newer albums like Seven back to Grey Street, with “commercial” songs sandwiched between, like the nostalgic The Space Between.  And as the night went on, the jam outs and guitar solo’s became longer and more intense.  I was overjoyed to hear two of my personal favorite songs live in Rapunzel and Why I Am, while some of the die hards seemed to sing louder to If Only and Belly Belly Nice.

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Dave Matthews, himself, is an unique lead man.  He seems to be a bit reserved with an odd sense of humor.  However, he was full of smiles and jokes throughout the night and even traded his acoustic guitar for a piano on two songs.  His talented band members seemed to sit back a lot more than in shows past, as they were happy to let their lead man get most of the limelight.  Either way, their musicianship surely shined bright during the band’s jam outs.  And, at no time did that shine brighter, than during the encore when the band ripped into a cover of Bob Dylan’s legendary All Along The Watchtower.  I was surprised that it was only an one song encore, but it was a great show nonetheless.  I hear that DMB is taking off next year from touring to create a new album, but I foresee many, many more touring years in this great American band.

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  1. Pig
  2. Proudest Monkey
  3. Crash Into Me
  4. Seven
  5. Seek Up
  6. The Space Between
  7. Grey Street
  8. Out of My Hands
  9. Minarets
  10. Samurai Cop
  11. Pantala Naga Pampa
  12. Rapunzel
  13. If Only
  14. Why I Am
  15. Bob Law
  16. Typical Situation
  17. Belly Belly Nice
  18. Digging a Ditch
  19. You Might Die Trying
  20. All Along the Watchtower (ENCORE)

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Who’s Next: Pat Lattin

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MILLERTIME MUSIC SPOT PRESENTS: Who’s Next
Pat Lattin: Latin 101
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              With the release of his new CD, Lattin 101, Pat Lattin is ready to break into the newest echelon of singer-songwriters. A native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Pat has been serious about music since he picked up his first guitar at the age of twelve. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied performance and songwriting. He formed his first bands soon thereafter and recorded several demos.  After some time, he assembled a group of studio veterans and laid down an EP.

            Lattin 101 marks a new direction for Pat. At the helm is fellow Berklee musician, drummer and producer Tyler LeVander. The songs range from ethereal to contemplative to no-holds-barred rock and roll. All have the stamp of something that is not just innovative, but mold-breaking.

            Flying in the face of conventional artists, Pat Lattin—and his music—defies description. One may hear familiar melodic structure, but then comes the unexpected: complex, unique chord structures; songs with multiple “movements”; rhythmic adventures with wonderfully jarring changes.

            Unlike some other singer-songwriters, Pat Lattin can play. Acoustic, electric, rhythm, lead, you name it. Listeners will hear subtle nuance, supple backing and scorching leads, all combining in a sound that, quite simply, breaks new ground.

            “I feel new songs,” says Pat. “Some picking can become a head, a verse or a chorus. I have a simple rule on guidelines: I disregard them. Some songs are culled from others. I just assemble what sounds ‘at home’ to me.” The result: tunes that comfort, provoke, and surprise. Some veer close to a precarious edge but somehow never lose control. They can turn heads and startle, but concurrently seem to bring the listener to a landing—if not a seamless, safe one.

            Pat is equally adept at playing solo as he is with his band. At every venue, he manages to invite the audience into his world—a world of wonder, texture and new horizons. Perhaps an early listener described a Pat Lattin performance best, “I don’t know what I just heard … but I need to hear it again. Right now.”

            Speaking thematically, Pat Lattin compositions touch on friendly discord (“Thanks for the Advice”); a Poe-like walk through the macabre (“Mad Hatter”); the plaint of a lonely sailor (“Edge of the World”), and possibly the world’s first song about a baggage claim (“Queen of the Carousel”).

            Audiences can pick up Lattin 101 on June 20th. The album will be available via all popular digital outlets. Physical copies will also drop on that date.

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            For more information, contact press@patlattin.com.

Billy Joel Continues His Historic Garden Run

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BILLY JOEL – MADISON SQUARE GARDEN – NYC – MAY 27, 2016

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I had the extreme privilege of seeing yet another musical icon, amidst a recording breaking run of sold out shows at the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, when I saw Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden.  I have been to a low of shows in my lifetime, and dozens at Madison Square Garden and can say that this venue always has a unique aura of electricity from the crowd.  And this night was no different, as the sold out crowd was loud and proud to be Billy Joel fans all night long.  And Billy returned the favor, treating the crowd as if he personally knew them.

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Billy was seated at a rotating piano for the entire show sans the encore.  During the set, he played mega-hits, such as Movin’ Out, New York State of Mind, and The River of Dreams, and expectedly received beams of applause from the dancing crowd.  But, early on, he did something I’ve never seen another live performer do before.  Two separate times, he announced two songs and asked the crowd to pick between the two by their applause.  The winning songs were Vienna (over The Stranger) and Zanzibar (over Big Man On Mulberry Street).  It truly showed how comfortable Billy Joel is as a live entertainer.  At no point did anything he or his band did seem staged or practiced.  It was just a man and his band going out and playing for a bunch of people who felt like they knew him.  And knew his music they did.

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Other highlights included Billy bringing out twenty or so members of the Navy during Goodnight Saigon.  Not only was it Memorial Day weekend, but also Fleet Week in New York City.  Chants of USA thundered down from the entire arena during this moving moment.  On the other side of things was when Billy dedicated The Entertainer to Donald Trump.  I personally think, based on the lyrics of the song, that it was done as a jab at Trump.  But, the Presidential Nominee obviously did not think so since the next day he took to Twitter to thank Billy personally for the dedication.   However, there was no louder portion of the show than when he ended his set with two of his most famous songs, Scenes From an Italian Restaurant and Piano Man, the latter of which the crowd did most of the singing with Billy sitting there in awe.

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Billy came out to a stirring six song encore chock full of classics.  And instead of sitting at his baby grand, he took to the edge of the stage with an electric guitar and jammed out.  During the final song, Only The Good Die Young, you could literally feel the arena floor bouncing.  All in all, the concert was a great experience and one that everyone should get a ticket to as Billy continues his run as the first ever music franchise.

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SETLIST:

  1. Seen The Lights Go Out on Broadway
  2. Pressure
  3. Summer, Highland Falls
  4. Summertime Blues
  5. Vienna
  6. Zanzibar
  7. Movin’ Out
  8. Layla
  9. The Entertainer
  10. The Boys of Summer
  11. Allentown
  12. New York State of Mind
  13. My Life
  14. Goodnight Saigon
  15. Keeping the Faith
  16. Sometimes a Fantasy
  17. She’s Always a Woman
  18. Don’t Ask Me Why
  19. The River of Dreams
  20. Summer in the City
  21. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
  22. Piano Man
  23. We Didn’t Start the Fire (Encore)
  24. Uptown Girl (Encore)
  25. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me (Encore)
  26. Big Shot (Encore)
  27. You May Be Right (Encore)
  28. Only The Good Die Young (Encore)

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