Every once in awhile I discover an old fashioned rock ‘n roll gem of an album in my InBox. Believe me, it’s becoming a more rare experience as the market is flooded with either overly pretty or dirty rock, but I still thirst for straight-forward rock ‘n roll. Citizen Zero has delivered exactly that on their new album State Of Mind, and I took a few minutes to chat with frontman about the album, the Orlando tragedy, Chris Cornell, and a bunch of other things.
So, let’s just set the record straight right away. I am a rocker. You look up Rock And Roll Animal in the Rock Almanac and there’s a picture of me. I’ve been going to concerts for decades, seen hundreds, maybe thousands of bands over the years; all kinds of rock ‘n roll, and up until last weekend nary a country artist. And, that was just fine for my rock ‘n roll heart.
Then, the stars seemingly aligned against me. My wife is a huge Blake Shelton fan. Shelton was headed to our area for a big show on Saturday night when word started to circulate around social media that he’d be playing a free show at a small country bar. Local country station K92 started spreading the word and it quickly exploded on Facebook and Twitter. If you didn’t know about the show, and you don’t follow us on Twitter, your mistake…
Doors opened at 6:00 for the 8:00 show, and it was destined to be packed. She got home just before 6:00 and wanted to go, so we took a chance and made the fifteen minute drive to The Barn in Sanford. The Barn is a legendary country bar, where many current country stars passed through on their way to the top. These days, you’re more likely to find a bikini contest or Texas Hold’em tournament, but on this evening, it was host to one helluva special event.
When we arrived, we hiked out to the back of the winding line somewhere Lake Monroe. We were about 400 spots from the door, and not very optimistic. But, luck was on our side, and by 7:30 we were inside the club, and fairly close to the stage. Today, to buy lower level Blake Shelton tickets on his upcoming tour, you need to be prepared to shell out $200 a piece We were in the equivalent of the tenth row, for FREE.
Shelton was due to take the stage at 8:00. So, I did what any good rock music fan would do and hit the bar. $5 domestics, not cheap, but no one was complaining. There was an incredibly positive vibe in the building. Being the beer snob that I am, I grabbed a Yuengling and a Stella, then toured the club. It was packed with happy country fans, lots of cowboy hats and denim, and walls plastered with photos of huge country stars who had passed through those doors over the years.
Shortly after 8:00, Shelton took the stage with his six other band members. From the second he stepped in front of the mic, it was electric. I didn’t know any of his music, but had a blast, almost as much fun as he was having on stage. He offered right away, “Grab a beer we’re going to be here awhile,” and I did. “We’ve got four pages of songs, and we’re going to play them all.” And, they did…
According to my wife, he played “Sure Be Cool If You Did,” “Over,” “Drink On It,” “Some Beach,” “Home,” “The More I Drink,” “Kiss My Country Ass” and my wife’s favorite “Austin.” The crowd loved them and sang along passionately to all of them. The fans were euphoric. There was the one obnoxious Weeble incessantly ramming her ample ass against me all night, pissed at me for being tall, but 99% of the people there were having an absolute blast.
The touring band was extremely talented, all taking their turns in the spotlight, and each one appeared to be having a great time, too. Shelton took requests from the crowd, told stories and interacted with everyone all night. You could tell he was having as much fun as the thousand sweating fans packed into the club.
Shelton mentioned that the night was a celebration of Country music and he absolutely held up that end of the bargain. By hour three I was drinking Bud, because that’s what we Country fans do, and singing along when I could, making lots of friends, and smiling constantly, but only half as much as my wife and all of Shelton’s other fans.
The band covered George Jones, George Strait, Brooks and Dunn, Eddie Rabbit, Toby Keith, Earl Thomas Conley, Garth Brooks and a few other country legends. A few of the songs I recognized included “Footloose,” “I Love The Rainy Nights,” “Little Sister” and “Driving My Life Away.”
Three and a half hours later, Shelton exited the stage, wrapping up an amazing once in a lifetime evening for 1,001 area country fans.
The staff at The Barn was fantastic; bartenders, security, the parking lot folks, snack bar team, everyone. They made a fantastic night even better.
From the first notes of the catchy opening track “Dark Night,” to the excellent closing track “Lost In the World” these guys demand your attention. Green River Ordinance’s brand of rock ‘n roll is hard to peg, but it’s music packed with lush melodies and fantastic harmonies in what is probably best described as Alt-Americana. The album is easy on the ears and a diverse collection of rich, comfortable musical offerings you’ll find yourself listening to repeatedly.
I was just recently introduced to this talented quintet out of Fort Worth, Texas, although the band has been on the rock scene for about a decade. They’re currently touring the country in support of their Kickstarter funded album Under Fire. Sure, I’m a little behind the curve, but nonetheless, here’s a review of the album, which is a nice broad introduction to the band that compares nicely to Train and Sister Hazel.
Lead vocalist, Josh Jenkins has a nice distinctive voice, and the band’s excellent harmonies make the vocals a focal point throughout. The line-up also features three guitarists, including Jamey Ice on lead guitar, which allows the band to offer impressive layered sounds throughout the fifteen tracks.
“Heard of Me” is an addictive tune with memorable lyrics and vocals that will stick in your head immediately. The guitars and Denton Hunker’s drums are the perfect accompaniement to what is quite simply a damn good song that should be a mainstay on Adult Alternative radio. “Home” and “Heart of the Young” are two other songs which reek of commercial playability.
“Love Laid Down” is one of my faovrite tracks on the album. The song features guitar and banjo and find Jenkins’ vocals in a different and compellingly interesting range. “New Day” is another fantastic cut. It features great keyboards and powerful drums throughout, giving it a different sound than most of the album. Jenkins’ vocals are again excellent, and the lyrics and harmonies will stick in your memory.
Overall, Under Fire is a strong album, from a band in control of their own sound and it works extremely well. Check it out on iTunes below.