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Photo and Caption: Levine Children's Hospital
Photos and Caption: Ryan Seacrest Foundation
By Rashod Ollison
She was one of the most formidable singer-songwriters to emerge in the ’90s, her fusion of classic rock, country and pop was smarter and more engaging than most from that era. In the process, she sold millions of records and took home nine Grammys and garnered critical success and respect – something that usually eludes rock female artists who have been so commercially powerful.
So it seems odd that Crow, whose accessible music carries such colorful artistic heft, would share the bill with Rascal Flatts, the musical equivalent of a big box store in the ’burbs – commodious and completely devoid of personality.
Both acts stopped at Farm Bureau Live in Virginia Beach on Sunday night, attracting a full house that was almost equal parts millennials and baby boomers.
After a limp, anonymous-sounding set from opener Gloriana, Crow strutted on stage in leather Capri pants and stilettos, strumming her glittery silver guitar. She and her excellent six-piece band kicked off with “All I Wanna Do,” Crow’s rollicking 1994 smash. That song was something of a harbinger for her recent, more overt county-rock direction as exemplified on her latest album, “Feels Like Home,” released last year. The difference is that her hit from 20 years ago is much less self-conscious than anything on “Feels Like Home.” But true to Crow’s touch, each song gleams with a studied professionalism and ingratiating craft.
On stage, though, the music – the current songs as well as the older hits – felt more relaxed, buoyed by the band’s solid sense of groove, which seemed to enliven Crow as she worked the stage, her voice clear and strong. “Best of Times,” a highlight from Crow’s current album, carried a raucous Chicago blues vibe, a welcomed contrast from the more streamlined version heard on “Feels Like Home.” With a funky undercurrent slighty reminiscent of Koko Taylor’s classic “Wang Dang Doodle,” the song was extended with a stomping instrumental break during which Crow showed off her skills on the harmonica.
She covered Johnny Cash’s somber ballad “Redemption” as vintage images of the iconic Cash scrolled across the giant backdrop. Midsong, it became a “departed duet” as Crow sang to Cash’s recording. It was somewhat jarring, hearing Cash’s varnished vocals come out of nowhere, but Crow made it affecting.
Her engaging and energetic set ended with a trio of her most pop-polished songs: “If It Makes You Happy,” one of the best rock tunes to come out of the ’90s; “Soak Up the Sun,” Crow at her sprightliest; and “Everyday Is a Winding Road,” one of her craftiest tunes.
Where Crow was unpretentious, her set sparkling with distinct but subtly related songs, Rascal Flatts was the picture of pop pomposity. The Ohio trio started with a literal bang – a burst of pyrotechnics and a pop concert cliché. The guys opened with “Payback,” the first song on their new album, “Rewind,” which was heavily and shamelessly promoted on the stage screens before the show. Lead singer Gary LeVox, bassist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist Joe Don Rooney stood atop a platform above a giant karaoke screen on which the song lyrics flashed in time with the beat.
After the trio descended their place so high above the stage, they eased into the hits – a long stream of saccharine and strutting tales of love lost and found, of hearts broken and mended, of safe good times without a hint of danger. Most sounded like retreads of hair band power ballads with slight country trimmings and lame rock underpinnings. But no matter the tempo or lyrical topic, LeVox sang each song the same – with a palpable sense of self-satisfaction, warbling in that frilly, affected, adenoidal style that has marred urban-pop singing for the last 25 years.
At one point, Rascal Flatts and its five-piece band left the instruments behind and did some fine, but hammy, vocalizing.
They briefly harmonized Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” to the delight of the Virginia Beach crowd. Shortly afterward, Crow joined the guys on stage for two numbers, including a version of Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish.” They sat on stools, Crow surrounded by three guys, all singing about wishing someone the best in life while nursing a broken heart. But the song didn’t become believable until Crow opened her mouth, bringing a sense of wisdom and genuine swagger no one in Rascal Flatts was able to muster.
Rashod Ollison, (757) 446-2732, email@example.com
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Photo and caption: Sheryl Crow
PS: the huge machine in background is a powerful MH-53E Sea Dragon Helicopter
Photos: Chris Baird / WRAL Contributor
A nine-time Grammy Award winner with sales of over 50 million albums worldwide, Crow reinvents her sound somewhat for her newest album “Feels Like Home.” This is her first album for a Nashville-based label, but the transition makes perfect sense. Not only does she live in Nashville, but her persona lends itself well to the country genre.
Crow’s new touring band aids a smooth style shift. A little attention focused on this backing band picked up special significance once we spotted a couple of faces familiar to Carolinas music fans in the lineup.
It’s hard to miss them if you know what to look for – a lanky six-string ace and a fiery-haired bass player with smooth vocal skills. I’m referring, of course to guitarist Audley Freed and bass player/vocalist Robert Kearns – long familiar and admired round these parts.
Those with extensive musical familiarity in the areawill immediately recognize these seasoned players as two of the four members of the highly popular band Cry of Love, originally based in Raleigh. Their dynamic debut album, ‘Brother,’ generated two No. 1 and two Top Ten AOR hits, including the bluesy rock favorite “Peace Pipe.” A second Cry of Love album, “Diamonds and Debris,” followed, but the band eventually dissolved.
Since then, Freed has been found in a variety of high-profile gigs, including a lengthy tenure on lead guitar with The Black Crowes, recording and touring worldwide, even sharing the stage with the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, which resulted in a collaboration/gold-record certified release “Page-Crowes Live at The Greek.”
Freed worked with Gov’t Mule; recorded with bassist Larry Graham; joined Black Crowes front man Chris Robinson’s solo band New Earth Mud; picked as guitarist for self-titled solo album by Joe Perry of Aerosmith; joined The Dixie Chicks in 2006/2007; toured with Jakob Dylan in the Gold Mountain Rebels trio; toured with Peter Frampton, and penned tunes for a variety of artists including the band Train.
Meanwhile, Kearns kept busy, too. Originally from Conover, N.C., Kearns went from Cry of Love into The Bottle Rockets for a number of years; then toured as bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd from 2009 until 2012 as well as recording/touring with a number of artists: Todd Snider, Edwin McCain and others before joining Sheryl Crow’s band to play bass and sing backup.
Over the years, it’s exciting to follow the careers of these talented musicians as they pop up in prestigious spots. In addition to Carolina favorites Freed and Kearns, Crow’s touring band also features Peter Stroud, lead guitar; Joshua Grange, pedal steel/keys; and Fred Eltringhamm, drums.
Catch up with Crow’s fresh sound backed by her new touring band live Saturday as guests of Rascal Flatts plus Gloriana at PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., Charlotte. For information, call 704-549-555. For more on the music, visit sherylcrow.com.
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Courtesy of Mellow Mushroom Boone and Appalachian State University org! :-)
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Photo and Caption: Sheryl Crow
Photo credit: Sarah Field Photography
Photo: Chuck Lewis
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The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
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"Look who my boys and I took to the creek today. Future cowboys!!"
"Our resting spot..."
1. “The Tracks Of My Tears,” featuring Elton John
2. “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” featuring Steven Tyler
3. “My Girl,” featuring Miguel, Aloe Blacc & JC Chasez
4. “Cruisin’,” featuring Jesse J
5. “Quiet Storm,” featuring John Legend
6. “The Way You Do (The Things You Do),” featuring CeeLo Green
7. “Being With You,” featuring Mary J. Blige
8. “Ain’t That Peculiar,” featuring James Taylor
9. “The Tears Of A Clown,” featuring Sheryl Crow
10. “Ooh Baby Baby,” featuring Ledisi
11. “Get Ready,” featuring Gary Barlow
Born and raised in Detroit, Robinson founded The Miracles while still in high school. The group was Berry Gordy’s first vocal group, and Robinson’s “Shop Around” became Motown’s first No. 1 hit on the R&B singles chart. The Miracles dominated the R&B scene throughout the 1960s and early ’70s.
More info: www.smokeyrobinson.com
Set to a new arrangement of the tune with Crow and Cash exchanging verses, the video is a compilation of Sheryl Crow concert footage and scenes of Johnny Cash living the good life in the Seventies, all interspersed with gritty, historic scenes of American war involvement throughout the 20th century. In one shot, you see American soldiers running through tall grasses in the jungles of Vietnam, before seeing dozens of bombs being dropped out of U.S. Army helicopters. In another, Cash is shown performing in black and white, later riding a train and contemplating in front of a gravestone in bittersweet technicolor.
The tune was originally written by Crow in 1995 and included on her Sheryl Crow album, inspired by an eye-opening visit to Bosnia in the same year with Hillary Clinton. "I really experienced something I'd never seen before, which was what it looks like to be in a war-torn area and meet people who had suffered through that," Crow explains to Rolling Stone Country. "Part of [Hillary's] goal was to speak to the women and children in those villages. The moment we went into Bosnia, the whole genocide was happening in Rwanda and we sat back and watched it, yet Bosnia seemed to be kind of a stronghold in Europe and we needed the military presence there. I came home really struck by the question of why we invest in some countries and other countries we don't."
The same question was still being asked by Cash in 2003 when he decided to cover "Redemption Day," calling Crow to grill her and gain insight into its inception. "He really wanted to understand what had motivated the song to be written so that he could sing it and he wasn't just putting his voice but his actual standing in the song. That's really why I believed everything that Johnny sang; his words had real meaning and real connection to his spirit."
Although the deliverance of Cash's rendition was stalled due to his death a few months after recording, it still remained relevant, "...particularly after invading Iraq and nobody really understanding, even after the realization that that had nothing to do with 9/11 and that there were no weapons of mass destruction. That question is always looming: 'Why are we in areas of the world when we have very little to do with our relationship with that part of the world?' And that was one of the reasons I think Johnny was interested in the song," says Crow.
"Then he died a couple months later, and it took years, and I'd made many phone calls to Rick Rubin and asked when this was going to be out. But for me it was so interesting because of what was happening in the world and I felt like the weight of his voice and him being such an iconic figure in American history and in the American art form of country music that it would happen when he said those words."
It was ultimately included on American VI: Ain't No Grave, Cash's posthumous album released in 2010, and after hearing the recording, Crow was eventually inspired to combine their individual takes into a new arrangement for performing live with the new video. "We talked to John Carter, Johnny's son, and said, 'We feel like adding his voice to this and it really brings it home. We're all feeling the weight of the chaos we seem to be trying to navigate through — politically, socially, everything in the world is supposed to be interconnected, and there's so much unrest and so much hostility. I mean, he's singing about peace... it was really in line with his belief system and Christianity. So we asked if we could mix his voice in and John Carter loved the idea, and we just used footage of him looking like himself — all aspects of himself through his career — so you see that and you hear his voice, and it's very profound and impactful when you see it live."
"Another fun 4th of July at the lake with family. God bless America!"
Photo and caption by Sheryl Crow