By: Erica Fasoli
On Wednesday night, a unique combination of Americana, folk, and country music filled the air in the foothills of Salt Lake City. I walked into Red Butte Garden Amphitheater at quarter to 7:00 pm and already the place was full. People had claimed their space with chairs and blankets and were enjoying the surprisingly cool weather. One thing that I love about this outdoor venue is the atmosphere. There’s always been such a positive vibe – people sitting around enjoying each other’s company over a beer and some laughs. Thursday night was no different. Everyone was there to have a good time.
Colter Wall was the first to take the stage. The Canada native began with an acoustic set, just him and a guitar. You could immediately hear influences like Johnny Cash and George Jones in his music – a traditional blend of country and folk. His band joined him on stage and his husky tone, in combination with pedal steel and harmonica, had people on their feet. The lyrics to “Mr. Toronto Man” echoed throughout the amphitheater.
The stage was full of cowboy hats and the crowd cheered with excitement as Colter proclaimed, “We’ll play a rodeo song for you next”. He covered “CalgaryRound-Up”, a signature tune by Wilf Carter about Alberta’s famed Calgary Stampede. His deep baritone voice brought a new life to the song and he even snuck in a yodel towards the end.
As the sun went down, it was time for the Wood Brothers. Chris and Oliver Wood, along with instrumentalist Jano Rix, took the stage. The Wood Brothers, now a little over two weeks into the tour, released their sixth album back in 2018. Nominated for Best Americana Album at the 61st Grammy Awards, ‘One Drop of Truth’ fused together a unique blend of country-folk and Americana-soul.
They started their set with a couple of old, mellow tunes – “Neon Tombstone” and “Glad”. With Chris on upright bass, they went on to play a few songs from their most recent album. “Sky High” echoed off the mountains behind the venue and immediately the crowd was dancing. It was obvious that their newest album connected with the audience. “River Takes the Town” was next, with Oliver on guitar and vocals. By this time there was a sizable amount of people crowded towards the front of the stage.
Everyone was smiling, swaying, and having a great time. Towards the middle of the set, Oliver paused and asked: “This is Utah right?” As the crowd cheered he responded “Just making sure. It smells a lot like Colorado. It sure is pretty here”. With a laugh they were onto the next – “Sea Sick Emotions” followed by “Who the Devil”.
Towards the end of their set, Colter Wall came out to join the brothers and they all crowded around a single mic, hushed the crowd, and sang “Angel Band”. The harmony between Colter and Oliver’s voices was beautiful and the acoustic rendition clearly touched the audience. They picked the pace back up with “LuckiestMan”. By far the crowd favorite, the lyrics “you’re the luckiest man” resonated through the audience as people swayed back and forth, arms draped over each other’s shoulders. You could feel a strong sense of community.
They finished with “Postcards from Hell” and as the set came a close, Oliver remarked “Sometimes I wonder what we’re doing with our lives. It’s nights like this that remind me how special this is.”