Tyrone Wells - Tyrone Wells is a successful singer songwriter on the rise. And in this era, instead of looking at chart positions, you can also judge success based on song placement in television and motion pictures. Wells has had a lot of this, so there is a good chance you have heard is music whether you know the name or not. And many have as he has plenty of fans in attendance who thoroughly enjoy his 43 minute set. He handled lead vocals, guitar, and a bit of piano and had a drummer and bass player who added fine backing vocals and a few other instrumental touches. The rhythm section really helped create some breadth for the music with some worldlier beats than what you would normally expect from this comforting folk-pop material. Wells seems like a sincere and likable fellow who has penned some fine songs and thankfully has assembled an excellent backing band. That combination made for a solid set that would hold its own headlining a smaller venue.
Ben Rector - Although pop-rock music is something I like, I do not often try to keep up with younger performers in this field. Ben Rector offered a reminder of the folly of this attitude. Five albums into his career has firmly placed him among some of the best of this field, at least based on what I saw tonight. Of course he has a great voice, reminding me of Josh Ritter and many more in this area. He rocks harder than what I have seen of Ritter and also reminds me of Amos Lee. But he pulls it back and offers a thoughtful contrast of songs: heavy/light, contemplative/fun, etc. He had four slick band members moving around on a variety of guitars, keys, and mandolins with a flowing rhythm section keeping things moving. The lighting was interesting with a lot of low level back lighting and it had an interesting effect of bringing the audience closer to Rector. He asked a few times to light up the audience so he could see and talk to them specifically noting some people. His personality and stage patter is fabulous and a real selling point in seeing him live. I liked his stories like his song about his whiffleball games with a lawn chair strike zone (just like I used to do) and he easily had the crowd feeling at home with him. He was hilarious in explaining the last song announcement reactions and predictable encore procedure to 'anyone who was new to concerts' and had the crowd gladly joining in with him whenever he desired. It all felt natural and enhanced his already excellent music. Ben Rector looks like he will be around a long time.
Quote of the Night: from Tyrone Wells... "Hello Baltimore and surrounding area... Silver Spring that is, not Silver Springs--they told me the plural would not go over."
And after that "My bass player is getting on me for saying Baltimore--Silver Spring!"