Nearly a week later, I find that I still have last Friday's concert on my mind pretty strongly. Of course, the events that took place after the concert will be with me for the rest of my life, but I'm talking about the show itself. This was my tenth time seeing Edwin McCain in concert, and it was definitely one of the best (if not the best) show I've seen them put on.
When I go to a show, I usually know ahead of time who the opening acts will be. A good opening band can add a lot to the concert experience, and I've seen some really good ones. Gibb Droll is probably one of the greatest living guitar players, and Jeffrey Gaines puts on an incredibly energetic show, just to name a couple. This time around, though, I didn't know who the opening acts were going to be. I didn't hear their names until Brandi and I were in line to get into the show.
The first act was a guy named Will Bowen, a local Cleveland musician. He put on a good show. We picked up his CD afterwards. While it is pretty decent, he sings a lot about the same subject (a girl, of course), and as such his songs have a tendency to sound a little bit alike. As a young guy, though, he'll definitely grow as a writer as his career progresses. He's got a really good voice and he's a good guitar player, and he also has a good stage presence. It was a lot of fun to see him perform. His website indicates that he has played here in Bowling Green in the recent past, so we'll have to keep our eyes open to see if we'll get a chance to see him here in town again sometime.
I was pretty excited when I heard about the second opening act, which was Brian Vander Ark. He is/was the lead singer for the band The Verve Pipe. I wasn't a huge Verve Pipe fan, but their hit "The Freshmen" is one of my absolute favorite songs. I didn't really expect him to sing that one, but it was cool to have a certain level of familiarity with the guy going in. I ended up getting a lot more than I hoped for from his performance. He did an acoustic show, just him and a guitar, and it was incredible. His voice is incredibly strong, and he was really belting it out. All the songs he did, including "The Freshmen" and a cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," were just awesome. I've had both of them stuck in my head ever since, and I can't stop humming and singing them. After the show, we picked up a copy of his live CD, Within Reach, which has all the songs he performed that night. Listening to it isn't quite as good as seeing him in person, but it's close. That CD is available on his website for anyone interested. I highly recommend it.
I know there are a lot of people out there who have never heard of Edwin McCain, or who only know of him from the couple of popular hits he's had (those being "I'll Be" and "I Could Not Ask For More"). Trust me, those songs are not representative of the type nor the quality of music he and his band do in general. They are a solid blue-collar rock band, and they're well worth the price of admission. Every member of the band is an incredible musician, and the hardest part of being at a show is deciding which one of them to keep an eye on. If you get a chance to see them live, and if you're a fan of live music, check them out (I'm looking specifically here at my Columbus audience; Edwin and the gang will be at Newport Music Hall on June 29). It's something you won't forget.
Alternatively, if you can't see them live, allow me to recommend their live DVD, Tinsel and Tap Shoes. More than showcasing just the musical talents of the band, it also manages to really capture the atmosphere at an Edwin show. It's low-key but very energetic, if that makes any sense. Brandi got me the DVD for Christmas, and we watch it from time to time. It's so close to actually being there that it made Brandi think she had seen them live more times than she really had. Still, there's nothing like being there, and I can't wait to see them again. Ten times is definitely not enough.