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July 15 @ 9:00 pm
- 8PM DOORS / 9PM SHOW
- ALL AGES SHOW
- STANDING ROOM ONLY (FULL BAND)
The perception that down-to-earth plainspokenness is a quintessential quality of country music tends to obscure the fact that exaggeration has long been a choice tool of country music-makers, too. In the hits of this decade — when hip-hop’s influence has surfaced not only in country production techniques, but the cadences of vocal deliveries and the postures struck in lyrics and performances — this sometimes takes the form of materialistic swagger (i.e. luring attractive women into a “brand new Chevy with a lift kit” or a “big, black, jacked-up truck” that’s “rollin’ on 35s.” Over time, though, the embellishment of rough behavior and rotten luck in songs ranging from Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City” and Johnny Cash’s “Busted” to Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” and the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” has been a reliable diversion for country audiences, and made their own troubles feel less insurmountable.
When one of the underdog protagonists on Alex Williams’ debut album, Better Than Myself, is confronted with criticism of his alcohol intake, he spins his stubborn refusal to change into outlandish yarns. “Gonna sell off a couple kidneys, buy a starship, fly that thing out west to San Antone,” Williams vows, conveying teasing nonchalance with his baritone twang. “Gonna wrangle them armadillos with a bullwhip, start a polka band, then rock the Alamo.” All of that serves to set off the bravado of the hook, which he delivers with considerably more vigor: “Before I go a week without a drink / Well, the day’s too long and life’s too short / to ride on the wagon, dang.”
Williams is a long-haired, scruffily bearded singer and songwriter from small-town Indiana, who’s plied his trade in Nashville since bailing on Belmont University. He distinguishes himself from stylistically fluid millennial peers by following the old-line outlaw country lineage and its tradition of leathery, knowing tall talk. He signaled his admiration for Willie Nelson by enlisting Nelson’s longtime harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, to play a few lonesome licks on his album, and pays permanent, visible tribute to Waylon Jennings with a tattoo of the winged “W” logo on his forearm. (Williams’ press bio credits the music of both artists, initially encountered in his grandparents’ record collection, with setting him on his course.) Better Than Myself also betrays the influence of a more recent predecessor: Jamey Johnson. It was nearly a decade ago that Johnson emerged from industry frustrations with That Lonesome Song, smuggling sophisticated ruminations under the cover of a menacing ex-con persona. Like Johnson did on that album, Williams’ relies on phenomenal performances from a hard-twanging, loose-limbed band — made up of first-call session players in Williams’ case — whose licks spill into the transitions between tracks.
It’s a sign of Williams’ self-awareness that he opens his album with the title cut, a song that acknowledges tensions that sometime exist between what a person sings and who he is in real life. “Someone told me not long ago that my songs are better than myself,” he reports with wry composure. “That the reckless way I’m livin’, it don’t match my melodies. That the written words I’m singin’, they ain’t got no honesty.” The idea for the song, he’s said, came from the way that his former drummer expressed disappointment in him as their band, Williams & Co., limped toward its end. By expanding on that rebuke, Williams establishes his self-deprecating persona and demonstrates his grasp of how authenticity is actually reckoned in the country world.
That can be easy to miss when the country music industry gets hung up, for instance, on the idea that what makes Chris Stapleton the real deal is how insulated his rugged soulfulness is from contemporary pop influences. It matters just as much that Stapleton is so compellingly believable in his role of weathered, wisdom-filled, emotionally tough mountain man. In country music, the aesthetic choices artists make don’t stand apart from how fully they’re integrated into the personas they embody.
Williams sure seems to get that. He’s all of 26 years old, and nailing the part of the stoned, admirably stubborn, veteran individualist. He’s filled his album with familiar turns of phrase, whittled down and repurposed. His slouching characters trust very little in the world other than experience. His 18-year-old self makes an appearance in the dusty story song “Few Short Miles,” idolizing a bar fly more than twice his age, who shares with him a wealth of proverbs and a vintage guitar salvaged from a dumpster.
Williams’ finest moments are his most easeful ones. In “Can’t Get Enough of You,” a track whose insouciance is underscored by its gently swinging, Jennings-esque groove, he juxtaposes the unlikelihood of choosing all six winning Powerball numbers with the immediacy of feelings of infatuation. In the spry, loping “Pay No Mind,” he conveys disinterest in political and religious rhetoric, further mellowing his vocal attack at the end of particular lines and letting their final words dissolve like smoke in the air. In “Freak Flag,” an ambiguous kin to Kacey Musgraves’ live-and-let-live number “Follow Your Arrow,” he chalks imaginative boasts up to personal quirks. “Give me a spool of thread and I’ll make the Golden Gate,” he ventures. “You got a bag of rocks, well, I’ll pave the interstate.” Then comes the equalizing shrug: “People are weird and so am I / Lay it on back; let your freak flag fly.” – Jewly Hight (NPR)
Hailing from North Carolina, two sisters and friends of the Maggie Valley band came together in the town they now identify themselves with. Each member learned their trade of music in the beautiful mountains of Maggie Valley, NC. Sisters Whitney & Caroline Miller grew up in a home where playing the piano was a daily requirement. Daily requirements turned to passion as they hit the streets to street busk. After years of busking, The Maggie Valley Band was officially formed and decided to take it inside-to venues. TMVB released their album “The Hardest Thing” in 2018 under under the direction of Grammy & Emmy nominated producer, David Mayfield. TMVB comes together to produce a sound affectionately referred to as “Dark Appalachian”.
In 2019, TMVB released the singles, “Silence” and “Something New” under the production of Jantzen Wray.
TMVB’s career has taken them as far as Canada to Southern Florida and partnering with great & diverse acts such as: David Mayfield, Jason Isbell, Infamous Stringdusters, Robert Randolph & the Family Band Black Lillies, Indigo Girls,Brent Cobb, Donna & the Buffalo Lonesome Riverband and many more!
Ritch Henderson & The Grandiose Delusion is a 4 piece Americana/Red Clay Rock & Roll band creating raw, emotional songs about: love, loss, psychedelic substances, and the occasional deal with the devil.
Ritch Henderson is a seasoned songwriter, musician, and performing artist hailing from the poverty-stricken hills of Northern Alabama; his “lived in” lyrics invoke an uncanny sense of familiarity, all the while challenging the status quo. Combining his intellectual lyrical prowess with his raw, soulful voice; Ritch has managed to make something as traditional as “Rock & Roll” feel brand new. As for the members in his band, they are all technically trained session musicians from Nashville, TN. who have bought into the vision of their Berklee educated leader. Ritch Henderson & The Grandiose Delusion deliver one of the most passionate, well rounded live shows in the independent touring scene today.
Ritch has performed with the likes of: Blackberry Smoke, Whiskey Meyers, Alabama, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Steel Woods, The Wooks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Reckless Kelly, Alex Williams, The Buffalo Wabs, John R. Miller, Arlo McKinley and The Charlie Daniels band. In addition to his touring success; Ritch’s music was featured on the album “Just Behind The Creek” which peaked at #11 on Billboard’s Bluegrass charts in 2020!
“Ritch Henderson doesn’t merely sing a song. He spews pieces of his soul into the ether with each verse”. – Jay Potter, The Hippies And Cowboys Podcast