Some of you know, many of you don’t but when I’m not doing shows and not working my day job, I am working as a booking agent for up and coming acts. Although I love doing it, it’s a thankless job where somedays I feel like more of a punching bag than an actual agent. Tuesday was one of those days. I had multiple bands cancel their shows I had booked last minute due to very vague reasons. I feel like a lot of bands don’t understand that you can’t just show up to a show and expect a huge crowd. It takes work– lots of work– and lots of promo, time, blood, sweat, and tears. Why am I telling you think? Red Wanting Blue was the headliner of the show on Tuesday night and they have been putting that promo, time. blood, sweat, and tears into their career for literal decades. They’ve been grinding since day one playing around two hundred shows a year and, although they have been on my radar for years, Tuesday night was my first chance to experience the magic that is Red Wanting Blue.
Before I get into that magic, let’s talk about opening act Taylor James Donskey. I was instantly enamored by the light that is Taylor James. There was something just so positive and so uplifting about his aura that, when added to his singer-songwriter sound, left me feeling refreshed and relaxed in a way I didn’t think I could feel after the Tuesday I had had. There was a charm about TJ’s banter with the audience. He kicked off the show by stating he was going to say his name after every song and he wasn’t lying about that. Between that, some comments about how he does take requests– just write them on the back of a one-hundred dollar bill and slide ’em on up to the stage– and the way he shouted out dozens of amazing local musicians, I felt like there was something just so real and charismatic about his overall stage presence.
Although it was his personality that had me sold on this performer, TJ’s music wasn’t half band either. It was your standard singer-songwriter vibe but his story telling, much like his banter between tracks, was raw and very heart-on-sleeve styled. Every song and every word that TJ sang was drenched with passion and love in a way that made my heart flutter. There was no pomp and circumstance, it was just him, his guitar, a microphone, and stories too tell that the quickly growing audience was clearly interested in hearing.
At one point someone in the audience shouted out a request. At first, TJ thought this person had requested Kansas but, it ends up, it was the title of one of TJ’s original songs. “Nobody has ever requested one of my own songs before!” TJ replied with a sense of joy and excitement. It was that little moment that told me everything I needed to know about this man. He may have been unknown to me when walking into The 7th Street Entry on Tuesday night but he is far from unknown in the scene and I was beyond honored to catch his magical charm for the first time– it surely won’t be the last time!
Okay, let’s dig into the other magical act of the night- Red Wanting Blue. As mentioned, these guys have been on a grind for decades. Having been a band since 1996 and having released a dozen albums, I wasn’t dealing with some spring chickens when it came to this band and you could tell as the stage was set for them. As Taylor James had put, “This stage is one stoner couch away from a chill hang.” That is the best way to describe the stage. Automated Lite-Brite looking boards spelling out Red Wanting Blue hung from the back of the stage along with many string lights. The stage was littered with suitcases covered in stickers from across the country and the seemingly random gnome sitting on top. It looked a bit cluttered and messy during the opening act but, as the house lights went down and those Lite-Brite boards and string lights came on, it made for a dazzling visual.
The visual of this band was stunning on its own but the real magic came with the band and their sound. It’s a dirty rock sound with a country twang and an undeniable sense of heart behind it. I know this is a blast from the past but if you ever listened to Limbeck, this is the band for you. For those of you who don’t know Limbeck (you should really check them out), I guess I could compare RWB to bands like Nathaniel Rateliffe & The Night Sweats and Mumford & Sons but with a bit more of an edge. It’s a truly rockin’ sound but it comes with this very chill and almost indie-singer-songwriter vibe behind it what with the way the words are strung together throughout the tracks and with the use of the violin being so prominent. Overall, RWB’s sound is soft and comforting but you absolutely get some spikes of angst and power throughout their sound that keeps things super refreshing and addicting.
I fell hopelessly in love with Red Wanting Blue as they powered through their lengthy set on Tuesday night. It was great and I was lost in the bliss but I couldn’t help shake one major thought throughout their set. Seeing this band give it their all on Tuesday night and knowing the grind that they have been on for years reminded me of seeing Nathaniel Rateliff in a very very empty Turf Club well over ten years ago. There was just something about their performance where that was all I could think about. I don’t throw this word or phrase around lightly but, Red Wanting Blue definitely has “it” and, although it took years, I was honored to finally catch that spark on Tuesday night.
So, to all of those bands that cancelled their shows I had booked for them and burned not only their bridges, but also my bridges with those venues– please take note. Red Wanting Blue has been grinding and they have played shows where I’m sure nobody was there but, as I watched them on Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but feel the triumphant energy radiating from the stage that told me that it was all worth it for these guys. They may not be a household name yet and I’m sure they still have years to go on the grind but they are getting there and I am just honored to have been there for a small portion of their journey.
Venue: 7th Street Entry
Average Age of the Crowd: 33
Crowd Surfers- None spotted
Stage Divers- 0
Mosh-ability- 1 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Fights- None Witnessed
Passed Out Kids- 0
Idiots Taken Out By Security – 0
How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Taylor James Donskey– 0
Red Wanting Blue– 0
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score – 8.8 out of 10
Show on Deck — Lime Cordiale / Halfloves
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