Sometime last fall/winter (though I actually started writing this in the early morning hours of the actual night of the concert), I had tickets to see what I think is one of the greatest things to come out of the country music scene in a LONG time. Yeah Joey & Rory, of CMT’s Can You Duet fame as well as those really great Overstock.com commercials that were especially active during the Christmas holiday season so recently passed. I almost nearly stumbled into the tickets, having caught a glimpse of the flier a week or two prior, I purchased tickets immediately without even knowing who I would get to go with me for sure. If you have a chance anytime soon it is well worth the $15.00 I paid for tickets to see this awesome duo live and in person.
Turns out to have been one of the better purchases that I made last fall. Fate had an odd way for determining who would attend with me, as it went through several possibilities, each having to decline based on prior plans, until a much younger friend of mine thought it was a cool idea. The plan being to get there just a bit early have a beer or three while things were getting going and just generally kick back and have a good time, enjoy the music, and such.
We arrived as I recall just about as planned and things got underway just about on the time it was announced and that for a concert was a refreshing change. The concert was a small one, and the location was Austin City Saloon in Lexington. If you have never been there, it is your typical rowdy kind of country/western place and could be the set for any movie that works with the genre. It is a small place, respectively speaking, but that smallness made for a nice intimacy with the performing couple that would not have been possible in a larger venue. I am not sure of the number of tickets that were sold, but I can say that it was one of the largest crowds I have ever seen at Austin City.
Anyway, back to Joey and Rory. First, let me just say the performance was just about as awesome and full of energy as any that I have ever seen. It was just the two of them, his guitar and a smallish sound system with some tracks laid down for accompaniment. For this pair it worked extremely well.
One of the things that I really like about the couple is that they are country the way it is meant to be. There is so much that is played on the country radio stations today that would have passed as light pop back in the days when I was growing up and some of it would have been even further off base than that. Just exactly I mean by that varies with any particular song you want to pick. Sometimes it is just that obvious sound and beat that was just meant some Texas two stepping, other times is that down home feeling with a bit a country twang and a gut feeling that just makes you know they are truly country in reality, and yet other times it is just that extra twang and a bit of sadness in the lyrics and voices that just speaks old style country to the listener, but yet it does so subtly.
Joey is just as beautiful as you would imagine from her television appearances and such, though even more petite than I would have expected. She had a beautiful voice, is quick to smile, and from my perspective not only the more musically talented, but also the one who I suspect nudges any disagreements in her favor when it comes to it. Rory seems huge compared to her, but I think probably more average in reality. He play pretty good guitar and is a nice offset to her from a backup standpoint. He is, apparently responsible for writing a good number the songs, as well as writing some for other folks.
Together they seem to be a great match and duo to watch. I personally like several songs off the debut CD and a few more that the performed live very well. I could go into detail, but I think we are all familiar with the big success of Cheater, Cheater. The title track, Life of a Song is a beautiful ballad type of song, oddly enough about a song. It has powerful vocals and is very moving, but I think they would do a bit better with a more a personal ballad like the one on the album called Heart of the Wood – or even borrowing from another power duet, something like the teen tragedy ballad Joey from Sugarland. Lastly, the Freebird cover they did both on the CMT show and the album is the best ever cover of it I think ever done – but to sell it, frankly, it has just been done so many times at this point.
I think they have gotten caught in a time when there were several other duets struggling to surface with the overwhelming shadow of Brooks and Dunn. I think as that clears the way for folks, an opening toward a greater success with a sophomore release will be found fairly easily. Being a year late, I think things are about done on this one album and I hope they are letting the farm and such take care of itself for a bit and in the barn out back putting together some new and original material. I know I will be looking forward to it.
** Picture is from the album cover, my copy of which is now signed inside – as they stuck around for everyone as best as I could tell.