Friday, May 28, 2010

Live review: Country Throwdown 2010

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 11:37 AM

Country Throwdown 2010

Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

May 27, 2010


The Deal: A dozen new and up-and-coming acts hit multiple stages for a long, hot day of country music.

Emily West

The Good: The day got started early — Emily West was the second act on the Outlaw Stage around 2 p.m. She showcased her strong vocals during her set of pop country and toasted the crowd shortly before her cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl."


Lost Trailers opened up the day on the main stage and did their best to win over the crowd with their country rock style and a cover of "I'm Yours."


Back at the Outlaw Stage, which was set up near the concessions on the side of the pavilion, Jonathan Singleton & The Grove tore into some good bluesy, country that showcased Singleton's guitar skills and slide style. The band mentioned they have a new EP out - one I'll definitely be giving a listen to.


Heading over to the Main Stage would be the second highlight of the day, for me — a 30-minute set by Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses. The short but fantastic set made me sad I missed him back in October when he was at the Evening Muse. His rock-infused-country style is steeped in emotion and energy. He's got a great old-soul vibe to his music that can leave you in a trance.


Wrapping up the Outlaw Stage was Heidi Newfield — a great harmonica player with a solid bit of twang in her vocal. She may have had me expecting the blues when she started, but this girl's pure country. Don't let the harp fool you. On a side note, her drummer, Tim Haines, is from Charlotte.


On the Main Stage, Eli Young Band was getting things going in their new country style. You can also count them as the second band to play a cover of "American Girl."


The new country continued with Jack Ingram who puts on an energetic show of his own. Ingram found time to share a story about once driving 200 miles out his way to make a stop at the Double Door Inn to see a show while on tour.


His energy didn't compare to Eric Church, however. Church was seen fist pumping and screaming between every song he sang.


Church told the crowd about how he grew up 87 miles away and used to come to the amphitheatre to see shows often.


Little Big Town took to the stage and entertained the rowd for 45 minutes full of harmonies and an Americana style of country.


Jamey Johnson hit the stage a bit late and appeared to be frustrated with a cast on his right/strumming hand. His music harkens back to an older style of country in the vein of Merle Haggard.

Montgomery Gentry closed the night, but I'll be honest — having seen them before, I bailed out half-way through Johnson's set after a long seven hours.


The Bad: The heat. The sound for the beginning of Little Big Town was a little muddy, but it seemed to clear up after a few songs.

The Verdict: I went in with straight-forward expectations — I figured I might enjoy Bingham and outside of that, I'd probably not be a fan. I walked away enjoying Bingham and Singleton enough that I'm already searching out to hear more music from them. I understand the popularity of Church and Ingram who are excellent entertainers. I didn't quite get the excitement over Eli Young Band. Johnson is another old soul that I'll need to give a second listen to. Little Big Town has carved out a nice niche for themselves with four lead singers. Overall, there was a good bit of variety and, if you didn't like an artist, were lucky that they didn't play for too long. If you loved them, you wanted more.

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