This is going to be a departure from your typical review - a bit more personal. You see, this weekend was supposed to be a double header - Friday at the Morgantown, WV show and Sunday at the Milwaukee, WI show with my friend Karen. She had never seen KWS, but apparently after hearing my enthusiasm for the band, she decided to check them out. Or maybe it was just a way to get me to visit. She talked me into doing the meet and greet as well, even though I had done one previously and normally wouldn’t have done it again - not so soon anyway. Unfortunately, Karen passed away unexpectedly, and part two of the double header was cancelled as a result.
Friday turned out to be one miserable day, weather-wise. Cold rain had been falling all day, and light snow was expected by morning. That and my general sadness made me feel like just staying home, and I came very close to doing just that. But my brain reminded me that I’d enjoy myself once I got there, and besides, Karen would probably haunt me if I didn’t go. Our friendship revolved around music, especially live music, so going was really the best way to honor her memory. And of course I did have a good time. The KWS Band puts on a fantastic show, after all. But I get ahead of myself.
Kenny’s people were gracious enough to allow me to switch my meet and greet to the WV show. People have different ideas about the meet and greet concept. Some will spend any amount for just a brief moment with their musical hero. Others feel that the only proper way to meet your favorite musician is the old fashioned way - by the backstage door or the tour bus. Admittedly, I’ve had some memorable experiences this way, but it isn’t always practical or possible. I do believe that some artists charge way too much for loyal fans to get 10 seconds with them and nothing but a blurry picture and a t-shirt to show for it. Other artists do it right, however. Kenny and Noah are very down-to-earth, and besides the usual photo, they are willing to sign autographs and chat for a bit. It can’t be easy to do that every show, but they do seem to genuinely care about their fans. I appreciate that, and I'm sure others do as well.
Personally, being a photographer, I like to get my own photos signed. This time, I didn’t have any, so I had Kenny and Noah sign a jean jacket that I had started painting with KWS related symbols. (I may be a complete professional when I’m photographing those first three songs, but I can be a total fan girl when I’m not.) I had meant to finish it before the Milwaukee show, but lost my creativity. They seemed to be tickled by it, so maybe I can finish it by the time they come around again.
The opening act had started during the meet and greet, but we didn’t miss much of their set, fortunately. The Peterson Brothers are a couple of amazing young men from Austin, TX. Together with their drummer, they play what their website describes as a combination of soul, funk, blues and jazz. Whatever you call it, it kicks butt! Older brother Glenn Jr. plays guitar with pure joy, with an infectious smile on his face. Younger brother Alex was able to make sounds come out of a bass guitar that I never thought possible, and his skill was impeccable. Then he picked up a violin and played a beautiful version of “Amazing Grace”. Blown away! I’m sure their CD is wonderful (haven’t taken a listen yet), but I suspect that a live show is the best way to experience their music. If you get a chance, I highly recommend seeing them.
The Metropolitan Theater is similar to the small theaters here in the Pittsburgh area. I had a front row seat, and had rented a camera I'd been eying for those times when I can’t get that elusive photo pass. I’m always a bit self-conscious shooting from the front row, and this isn’t the kind of crowd that is waving cell phones thru the whole set, so I tried to keep it to a minimum. That was hard when I wanted to see just what the camera would do. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time trying to change settings on an unfamiliar camera, because I’d miss too much of the action and well - fan girl! Actually, I’ve been wanting to get a reasonably good camera into one of their shows because these guys perform with such emotion that it deserves to be on “film”. Though I can’t show you what they sound like (I don’t believe in shooting video) and I’ve never been good at describing it, I believe good photos can take you into the moment.
As I said, the KWS Band always puts on a great show. Their shows are never exactly alike, and no two versions of any song are exactly alike. That makes it fresh and unique every time. So many bands now-a-days rely on backing tracks or heavily choreographed backgrounds and effects that their shows have almost no variation from one to the next. A spectacular stage show is fun, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something special about a more intimate show where the songs seem more a part of a lengthy jam session than a broadway musical. That’s one of the reasons I had no problem agreeing to a trip to Milwaukee to see them again. One thing making this show different was the absense of keyboardist Joe Krown. While there was definitely nothing wrong with the performance, you certainly do notice when he isn't there.
This was part of the Lay It On Down tour, but they only did two songs off that album this time. The rest were some of the old-school tunes that have been missing from the set recently as they promoted the latest album. As much as I love Lay It On Down, it was great to hear the older tunes again, and they really lifted my spirits. Noah Hunt handles most of the vocals with a voice as smooth as velvet. Kenny’s voice provides perfect contrast when harmonizing or singing lead on other tunes. Then there is Kenny’s guitar playing. When it comes to playing traditional blues and his own brand of blues infused with rock (or country or pop), he truly is one of the best out there today. His music doesn’t get old to me and I can’t say that about many artists. There is a new album coming out next year and I can’t wait to hear it!
Somehow, Somewhere, Someway
House is Rockin'
Heat of the Sun
Diamonds and Gold
Born With a Broken Heart
Shame, Shame, Shame
Down For Love
You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
Blue On BLack