Tuesday, March 23, 2004

...And She's Held My Heart So Long

I was originally planning to include a concert review as part of yesterday's weekend review. However, I eventually concluded that it merited an entry of its own.

I was introduced to the music of Edwin McCain nine years ago, during my freshman year in college. My roommate, Matt, had seen Edwin perform live as the opening act for Hootie and the Blowfish, and had picked up his first (major label) CD, Honor Among Thieves. He listened to that CD all the time, and I liked it a lot as well. I found myself putting it on even when Matt wasn't around, and eventually I bought a copy of my own.

As much as I enjoyed the music, I didn't fully appreciate it until some time later. One night Matt had gone to bed, and I was still awake and doing homework. I put my headphones on and listened to the CD, and that allowed me to hear all the subtle details and nuances of the music that I had missed. The last song on that CD is "3 a.m.", which is a fairly slow song featuring just Edwin singing and playing an acoustic guitar. I could hear all the little growls in his voice, and it gave me chills. That's still one of my favorite songs.

In the nine years since then, Edwin has released four more albums (Misguided Roses, Messenger, Far From Over, and The Austin Sessions) and re-released his very first CD (Solitude), which was originally available only on a limited basis. His newest CD (I've heard two different titles, and I don't know which one is right) is scheduled to be released on June 22.

Being a fan of Edwin's music has also turned me on to a whole slew of excellent bands and musicians--some of them I've seen open for Edwin, and some of them I've just heard about by talking to other "Edheads." Probably you've never heard of any of them, but here's a list anyway--if you're looking for some good music that isn't the pop crap that's spoon-fed to everyone by the radio conglomerates, check out some of these: Angie Aparo, the Mike Corrado Band, Gibb Droll, Pete Riley (who has since joined Edwin's band), Treehouse (the band Pete used to sing for), Jeffrey Gaines, Beth Hart, and Mieka Pauley.

At any rate, Saturday was my eighth time seeing Edwin perform live. Needless to say, I love going to his shows. It's pretty basic, and you always know what you're going to get. There's no fancy staging, no special effects--it's just six guys on stage, laying it on the line. In the eight shows I've been to, there have been some less than stellar crowds, but Edwin never cheats anyone. He puts his soul into every show.

It was a general admission show, so we got there plenty early. I had gotten tickets that allowed us to get in a little before most people, so we got a pretty good spot just about a row back from the stage. The opening act was a band called Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, and they were pretty good. They had kind of a bluesy sound, and their lead guitarist was really good.

They played for about an hour, and there was a twenty-minute break for equipment changes before Edwin and his band came on. They kicked off with a tune called "My Mystery" that will be on the new CD when it comes out. In all, they played five tunes from the new album--four originals, plus a cover of Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" to end the show. I liked the new songs a lot, which makes me even more anxious for the new album to come out. It's nice to have a little preview.

Of course, the familiar songs were awesome as well. I think the best concerts are those where you can tell that the band is having a great time up there, and this was definitely one of those. Edwin said early in the show that he loved playing in this particular venue, and it showed. When he sings, there is just so much emotion in his voice. The guys in the band were walking around, jamming together, and it was great. They're all excellent musicians and entertainers--they know how to put on a show.

For me, the highlight of the show was when they played the song "Sign on the Door" (from the Messenger album). This is one of my favorite Edwin songs, although I didn't fully appreciate it until the first time I heard them play it live. More than any other, I feel like this is the song in which Edwin really lets go and just belts it out with everything he's got. It's inspiring. Also, the lyrics are incredible. This is one song that I wish I had written. I can't even adequately describe what it's like to hear it performed live; you just have to experience it for yourself.

Besides the stories Edwin told, the funniest moment of the night came during the song "Darwin's Children" (from Misguided Roses). The band launched into the song, and Edwin walked up to the mic and immediately began singing the second verse. As soon as he started, he knew he had screwed up: he got a confused look on his face and started looking around at his bandmates. He finished out the verse and then started over.

Another cool moment came during the song "I'll Be" (from Misguided Roses), which is probably Edwin's most popular song. Before the last chorus, he removed his earplugs and stepped to the side of the microphone, singing without amplification so he could hear the crowd sing along with him, which we did with gusto. It was awesome. I can only imagine how it feels to be up there, listening to an entire crowd of people sing along to words you've written. I've seen him do this before, but it gives me chills every time. Good stuff.

Perhaps the best part of the whole evening was that Brandi really enjoyed the show as well. That means we'll be going to see him again (and again and again).


1. My Mystery (new)
2. Jesters, Dreamers, and Thieves (Honor Among Thieves)
3. Save the Rain (new)
4. Far From Over (Far From Over)
5. Darwin's Children (Misguided Roses)
6. Shooting Star (new)
7. Sign on the Door (Messenger)
8. Turning My Life Around (new)
9. I Could Not Ask For More (Messenger)
10. Take Me (Misguided Roses)
11. Say Anything (new)
12. Beautiful Life (Messenger)
13. Promise of You (Messenger)
14. I've Seen a Love (Far From Over)
15. I'll Be (Misguided Roses, Messenger)


Let it Slide (The Austin Sessions)
Go Be Young (Messenger, The Austin Sessions)
Solitude (Honor Among Thieves)
Maggie Mae (Rod Stewart cover)

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