GRITZ: On Stage

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Perry Road Band
Bob Sinclair & Friends

Rogers Park Amphitheater
Tryon, N.C.
July 20, 2000

You couldn't have asked for better weather in Tryon to kick off the new "Summer Tracks" series at Rogers Park on Thursday evening, July 20. For the ‘dead of summer,' it wasn't really hot at all, and the occasional breeze even provided a tail-wind for the many butterflies that made their way through the amphitheater, across the stage and up through the audience. As families and friends converged on the small venue for an enjoyable evening of music, it was obvious that everyone was in for a real treat.

The first in a proposed series of concerts here, the music began with Bob Sinclair and Friends, playing a tasty blend of folk and swing music. Sinclair performed mostly original music, accompanied by a laid-back acoustic band that featured a stand-up bass, a jazzy acoustic lead guitar, and a smooth drummer. Sinclair's voice is clear and melodic, sometimes reminiscent of Jesse Winchester, while at others, it takes on a tone similar to that of Willie Nelson.

Some of the audience favorites included the swinging "Cool Mac Daddy," "Got Over The Blues," and "Cupid," a fun song about a dog. The band's cover tunes were also well received, including a melodious rendition of Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou," and an encore romp down "Route 66."

Following a short break to strike the stage and change out amps, Spartanburg, South Carolina's Perry Road came out. The five-member group features Bari Smith on pedal-steel guitar and a girl named Anabela on lead vocals, along with a guitar/dobro/trombone player, a guitarist/singer and bass player.

Perry Road played a unique and just down right fun blend of Americana, rockabilly and country-folk, with Anabela jumping all around the stage like a kind of country fried Janis Joplin, and singing in one of the most crystal clear country voices we've heard lately. It should also be noted that Anabela provided more than a few laughs during the show with her comedic rants and magnetic stage pressence.

They kicked off their set with "Between a Woman and a Man," and ran through a mixed bag of originals and cover tunes that included their very excellent take on The Indigo Girls' "Closer to Fine," John Prine's "Paradise" and "Half an Inch of Water," "The Weight" by The Band and in one of the evening's most memorable musical marriages, a version of The Doors' "Light My Fire," with a pedal steel sound similar to that of Toy Caldwell in the early Marshall Tucker Band. Unique? I should say so. There was also a very nice cover of the Jerry Jeff Walker tune, "Head Full of Nothing," and steel player Bari Smith strapped on the acoustic six-string for a full-tilt boogie romp through Billy Joe Shaver's "Georgia on a Fast Train," with Anabela on "electric" wash board. Smith also performed his original, "Old Crow," a tribute to former band mate and Spartanburg legend Billy Joe Crow of the old Trottin' Sally Band.

Both bands turned in highly enjoyable sets, with just the right amount of volume and energy. By all accounts, the debut "Summer Tracks" concert was a success, and everyone in attendance, judging by the applause, laughter and smiles, seemed to agree.

Peter Eisenbrown, board director with the Upstairs Gallery and co-producer with Chris Tinkler of the Summer Tracks concert series in Rogers Park says, "I think that Rogers Park is a tremendous community resource and hope to continue a concert and arts series in the park. This first show was terrific with two outstanding bands that had the audience clapping and singing along. Perfect weather and great entertainment in a park....what else can you ask for?"

The second concert is scheduled for Thursday, August 17 with a band featuring singer Anthony Tomlinson and several former members of Seconds Flat, the acoustic-Americana band that brought everyone to their feet at this year's Blue Ridge BBQ Festival.

A donation at the gate is required so adults should come prepared to pay (children under 12 get in free). Water and soft drinks are available for purchase, and the officials encourage attendees to bring along a picnic dinner and enjoy the new park to the fullest.

-Michael B. Smith

(Photos by Jill Smith)

© 2000 GRITZ, Ltd. -- A Michael B. Smith Company