KCRW is not necessarily known for playing country music. But we are known for playing GOOD music of all kinds — country and americana among them — and our first Country in the City show was a fitting tribute.
There was plenty of dancing (and drinking, let’s be honest) and everyone had a blast.
Anne Litt kicked things off with a DJ set featuring modern and classic country, from Bobbie Gentry, George Jones and Kris Kristofferson to Whiskeytown and Willie Nelson.
Anne grew up on country music, watching Hee Haw, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Glen Campbell show as a child. She said preparing for her set was a trip down memory lane and a great excuse to dig deeper into artists she’s always loved.
She spent a lot of time doing it and joked with us before she got on stage that she had prepped 23 hours of music!
Sturgill Simpson followed and it’s safe to say he blew everyone away — from a guitarist who appeared to channel Jack White’s searing style, to Sturgill’s thoughtful lyrics and his classic country voice, which has prompted comparisons to Waylon Jennings.
The Kentucky-born musician released his debut album “High Top Mountain” just about a year ago, but it’s his sophomore full length “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music“, released earlier this summer, that has catapulted him to the public eye, including an appearance on Letterman last week.
The kudos keep on coming and, given the critical acclaim, it’s likely to top many “best of” lists at the end of the year.
I was talking to the rhythm section — drummer Miles Miller and bassist Kevin Black — before the show and he said that since they all played on the record, they were all equally exalted by the positive attention.
There was no sense of false modesty, just the sense that they were proud of what they made and in a bit of shock at the overwhelmingly positive reaction. But, most of all, excited to be along for the ride.
On stage Sturgill mentioned that they played the Hotel Cafe in October to just 20 people and it has been a “crazy couple months” — including the birth of his first child.
As a member of the audience, you knew you were watching something special that was only going to continue to grow and it felt exciting to be a part of their path.
Two fun facts:
Sturgill closed the set with “Railroad of Sin“, a song inspired in part by his job he had at a railroad freight-shipping yard for Union Pacific Railroad in Salt Lake City.
After the set, everyone was asking about guitarist Laur Joamets. Where did that name come from, you might ask? He’s from Estonia!
Headliner Gregg Allman is always a crowd pleaser. With such a deep catalogue, every single song is a treat.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was named one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone and he proved why. There is simply no one who sounds like Gregg Allman.
With news that the Allman Brothers Band are doing their final round of shows later this year, there was even more reason to see this legend live.
When he started playing “Melissa“, the crowed roared their approval and they left the stage on a high note with an encore of “One Way Out”.
Check out more photos below and join us on Saturday, July 26 for Shelby Lynne and Jamestown Revival. Free with RSVP!
Last but not least, a huge thank you to the Annenberg Foundation for their great support of music, art and community in Los Angeles.