Sunday, May 3, 2015

98.5 KVOO 5 Man Jam - 4/28/15

You all know I love country music, small intimate venues, acoustic performances, seeing up-and-coming artists and doing it all for free.  So, naturally, I was dead set on going to 98.5 KVOO’s 5 Man Jam!  This was an acoustic performance by 5 artists all brought together by the radio station.  The best part -- it was free!  All you have to do is go get tickets from a specific business or win them on the radio.  This time it included Montgomery Gentry, The Swon Brothers, Brothers Osborne, Logan Mize and Ashley Monroe.

Since you could just go pick up tickets I decided to get a set and so did Renee.  I asked my friend Amanda to join us.  She said she hadn’t been to a concert in many years and was very excited to go.

When I go to these type concerts where it is general admission and I may not know all the songs, I prefer to be right up front.  The experience is heightened by the fact that you are so close and the artist can draw you in.  If you sit or stand in the back, it is still nice but you can get distracted and just don’t feel a part of the performance as much.  I know some prefer that, but not me.  I need to be right up front!

The catch to that need to be in front means you have to go and stand in line for several hours to get the spot you want.  I don’t mind at all!  Amanda and I arrived at River Spirit Casino around 4:00 even though the doors didn’t open until 6:00.  We were first in line!  We got to know the people around us over the next 2 hours.  This is where having buddies can pay off.  If you are friendly with the people by you, they help save your spot if you have to go to the bathroom and they don’t trample you when it’s time to go in.  We even joked that the 3 guys right behind me were going to be my offensive line if I needed it.  They were some big ole’ country boys!

We got inside and claimed our spots right up front and a little to the right.  Was hoping to be in front of The Swon Brothers and Montgomery Gentry and we did that perfectly.  Now we had to wait another hour for the show to start.  If you are keeping tabs, we stood for 3 hours waiting for a 2 hour show.  And it was worth every minute!

Johnny Dee from KVOO was the DJ playing the music inside.  I’m normally not a fan of DJs.  They cut songs off half way through and mix them with weird songs they don’t belong with and do too much crowd hyping.  Just shut up and play the music we can sing and dance to while we are waiting.  He didn’t do a lot of that.  Great job Johnny Dee!

The first artist to come out was Ashley Monroe.  She was adorable.  Although the first thing we thought was she needed to eat a cheeseburger or two!  Even Eddie Montgomery mentioned later in the show that she needed to eat something.  Hilarious!  She did have on these to-die-for thigh high boots that I really loved.  

The only thing that I knew about Ashley Monroe was her duet with Blake Shelton “Lonely Tonight”.  She had a really great country music voice that reminded me of some of the classic women of country.  She sang a song called “Weed Instead of Roses” that had lyrics in it like “let’s put up the teddy bears and get out the whips and chains” and “give me weed instead of roses and let’s see where it goes” which caused us to say multiple times…did she really just sing that?  I don’t think that one will get played on the radio.  But she did have a great voice and her song “Like a Rose” was beautiful.

They put Ashley as the host for the evening so she had to introduce the others as they came out for the first time.  I don’t know if it was just nerves, the fact that she was the only woman on the stage with a big group of dudes or that she wore a really short skirt and had to try to be lady like and not flash anyone while sitting on a bar stool, but she seemed very uncomfortable and not so happy to be there when it wasn’t her turn to sing. 

After Ashley sang her first song she introduced Logan Mize – another artist I was not familiar with.  He had a great voice, some fun songs and told great stories about them.  He even got the crowd to sing along to “Can’t Get Away from a Good Time”.  

During the times when the others were singing he seemed to be calming his nerves with a double Maker’s Mark on ice.  He even made mention early on that it was really good and would love whoever made it to make him another.  He looked like he was going to throw up at any moment.  We were even making a plan of how to dodge it if he did since we were directly in front of him.  LOL  But every time he got up to sing his whole demeanor changed and he seemed very comfortable.

Next to come out was Brothers Osborne.  I had heard “Rum” on the radio and liked it but I wasn’t too familiar with them either.  They are an interesting pair.  John Osborne looks like a mountain man with his full bushy beard and feather in his hat and TJ Osborne had a little more rough around the edges, bad boy look to him.  They sure seem the type of boys who know how to have a good time.

When they started their first song and TJ started singing, Renee turned to me and said “Where did that voice come from?”  I was instantly hooked.  I loved their songs, their voices and John’s guitar playing.  They had a little more blues sound to them and it made them unique.  I really think they will be big.  There is no one out there that sounds like them.  They definitely gained a fan in me that night and I’m pretty sure I will be dancing around to “Stay a Little Longer” all summer long.

Next up was our home state boys The Swon Brothers.  I was extremely excited to see them again.  I had been to a Girls Night Out given by another radio station where they played an acoustic set and we got to meet them.  They are just so fun!  I love the way they play off each other in who’s the better brother.  It really gives them personality.  

Colton Swon does a great job of playing up the crowd while Zach Swon just sits back and makes you fall in love with his voice.  They sang “Pretty Beautiful,” “Pray for You,” and my personal favorite “Later On.”  They sounded great and seemed to have a great time up there.  One day I would love to hear them do “Seven Bridges Road” in concert like they did on The Voice. They sure do make us Okies proud!

A little side note about The Swon Brothers’ guitar player, Seth Costner.  He was backing up the boys but let me tell you, he is very talented and deserves to be up front.  He played with them the last time I saw them and there was just something about him and his voice.  I downloaded his first EP and have not been able to stop listening since.  He is in the middle of recording a new EP and I will be the first one to buy it!  I’ve even got Amanda hooked on his music now.  Check him out on YouTube.  There are some great videos of him playing his music live.  This one’s my favorite:

Now for the veterans of the bunch – Montgomery Gentry.  Renee and her husband Erik are HUGE Montgomery Gentry fans and have been front row for several of their performances including at Cain’s Ballroom.  I had never seen them but have always been a fan of their music.  It was actually Renee who convinced me to go get in line early to get up front.  She had said they were amazing to watch but I didn’t realize just how good they were!

It was extremely obvious that they have been around for a while.  They really knew how to hype up the crowd and Eddie Montgomery is quite the character.  I don’t know how he gets away with his dance moves but it just works.  And his boots were amazing! 

Troy Gentry sat down, played his guitar, sang and let Eddie work the crowd.  Eddie kept inviting everyone on the bus for an after party.  Now that would be a fun time for sure!  They played all the favorites and got the whole crowd singing “Hell Yeah” – my favorite of theirs.  At the end they came back out for an encore and invited all the other artists to play with them on “Gone”.  True entertainers and great singers for sure.  I ended up with their set list and gave it to our new friends from the line who screamed like a girl when I handed it to them. I made me happy to see them so excited to have it.

This really was a great show.  I think when someone plays an acoustic performance it doesn’t let them hide behind the smoke, lights and loud music.  They have to be genuine and real and if you can’t really sing it’s going to show.  All of these artists were true talent and I really love and appreciate that.  Thank you KVOO for putting together such a great group and please do it again.  I’ll be there, front row, dancing and singing right along.

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