Musician's Corner: Savoring the End of Summer

Musician's Corner: Savoring the End of Summer

  • Article by: and Photos by Jamie McCormick
  • Posted: 09/06/2011

As summer winds gently toward its close, the gorgeous sunny days so perfect for outdoor music festivals become more gratifying for their rarity. And the first installment of this season's Musician's Corner in Centennial Park happened to fall on just such a sunny day, narrowly avoiding the Labor Day weekend rain and kicking off the first week of “autumn” with flare.   

Warm, but not oppressively hot, the Saturday afternoon saw kids playing in the misting tent and dogs traipsing about while a decently sized crowd relaxed in the shade of giant oak trees. A slight wind even gave enough relief to start a game or two of Frisbee and football, and a few brave souls succumbed to the urge of dancing to the beat.

Nashville fan favorites The CO eased into a musical mood, beckoning with an easy to love style and the smooth but ardent vocals of frontman Collin Brace. Juxtaposing energetic anthems with sweetly serenading rock tunes, they started the show with a bang. As the dancing grew more lively, so too did Brace, feeding off of the crowd and delivering a solid performance full of fire and falsettos.

For the first side-stage act, two youngsters from the Metro Parks Jam Band program, Michael Casselman and Joseph Tillman, did a fair amount of justice to some old bluesy standards. The program fosters teen-age musicians, giving them the chance to play in a band setting and to develop their skills. And this duo showcased quite a set of skills, with fingerpicking, sax, and vocals that should impress widely in just a few short years.    

Andy Osenga and Foxes Have Foxholes followed with two songwriting-heavy sets featuring a gentle, loping rock formula at its most simple. The stories, of the trotting and intricately detailed variety, held the reigns and drove the performances, leaving the music backstage in a supporting role.

Bringing back the driving music, Damien Horne found a new groove – part R&B, part rock, part reggae – that brought back the dancing and the heat. Shifting from a sweet falsetto to a pounding rap solo, Horne hit all the genres, and they hit back, making for a set that kept everyone on their toes (or at least moving their toes).

The last side-stage act showcased the most impressive musicianship of the afternoon, as Justin Davis and Sarah Zimmermann, a duo known as Striking Matches, ripped around their guitar necks like a couple of veteran Indy car racers doing an exhibition on a favorite track. Their cohesive sound came from two styles that fully complement each other, each somehow being a standout without standing out, and their classic country back-and-forth provided a nice little jaunt on top of the music.

Closing out the day was Attwater, a solid country duo with a simple formula that they utilize to its fullest. The solid, soulful vocals of Erika Attwater are a welcome change from the  either airy or growling styles typical of country female fronts of late, as they are reminiscent of the classic and eternal power and spirit of greats like Martina McBride. Attwater supplied a pleasant sunset at the close of a satisfying and well-spent afternoon.

If the rest of the fall season of Musician's Corner goes as well, Music City is in for an Autumn chock full of great live outdoor shows (not that it would be surprising or unusual). The local vendors aim to keep everyone fed and hydrated, and a slew of sponsors provide perks like opportunities for free tickets to shows around the city or information about humanitarian programs. There's even a merch table for all of your music procurement needs, although you will have to walk by a Ben and Jerry's tent to get there, so save some room in your tummy if you want a CD.

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