I am sad for seven and a half billion people on Earth. Each one, robbed. Cheated. Excluded from one of the finest sets of music this man ever witnessed.
Saturday night, spanning two uninterrupted hours of harmonies that pulled tears from not only your heart but your soul as well, about 20 fortunate humans held captive by the music, enjoyed an energetic, personal, night of music by the Parachute Brigade at Taylor Books in Charleston, West Virginia.
The night kicked off with a warmup “sound check” five minutes before the performance was scheduled to begin. At that moment, this music-lover knew the night held magic. The only question asked of my ears and heart? Will they be able to carry the night?
“The River” beautifully kicked off the evening. The harmonies. The passion. The smiles adorning each performer’s face – all interwoven throughout the evening of personal connections with the audience – kept me riveted. Much of the set contained original music.
I know, I know, people, including myself, don’t like to get away from the familiar too much. Cover bands flourish like dandelions on a neglected lawn. The particular lawn I metaphorically speak of here? The music landscape.
Sure, many bands write their songs with “one-day” hopes. This band, this Parachute Brigade writes songs of life. Experience. Human emotion. Not only do they write outstanding music, their tight harmonies and adept instrument playing soothe AND engage the heart and soul through your ears.
The set contained a number of covers, one by a band I never heard of, which was unfortunate in its timing in the show as my phone battery decided to call it a night and I did not record the song title.
The first cover of the evening delivered a smooth, melodic version of “Fever,” a pleasant surprise. Brittany McGuire’s outstanding vocal kept the original tension of the song and delivered with softened tones. A couple Tom Petty covers, “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “Free Falling” were spot on through the use of a quartet of incredibly blended voices.
My favorite cover arrived with an energetic (as it should be) rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” Not only did the energy match the tune, quick thinking improvisation by Eric Robbins had him grab a small, empty suitcase and beat it like a drum so convincingly, Mick Fleetwood himself would be amazed!
I must state, however, that the covers were NOT the highlights of the evening for this listener. Yes, well crafted and excellent beyond expectation, but the homegrown music of fellow West Virginians threw me to the edge of musical ecstasy.
Songs like “Gold, The River, Old Pond, Carry You Along, I Wish it was All a Dream (not sure if that’s the title but these words were an incredible repeated hook in the song), Family of Trees (again not sure of the title but a beautifully haunting song), and California.”
“California stood out to me amongst a night of outstanding songs. I believe they stated this was a new song. Bravo!
I’ve been blessed to have witnessed and enjoyed some of the most incredible concerts in rock ‘n’ roll over the decades. Tina Turner live at Walnut Creek in Raleigh comes to mind as an amazing concert. That woman worked hard! She invested herself at levels mostly unseen in rock music. That stands as one of my top ten concerts of my life.
Then, again at Walnut Creek, Styx with Dennis DeYoung. Oh. My. God. Only 7,000 people showed up. Did Styx slack off because of the low turnout? Walnut Creek held around 25,000 people. Hell no! They absolutely delivered possibly the finest arena concert I’ve ever enjoyed. They stand in great company with the “Elton John/Billy Joel” tour which I caught both in Dayton Ohio and Atlanta Georgia. Numerous Elton John performances, Fleetwood Mac tours and Heart.
Tonight, I witnessed a band that poured their hearts into their music. Their love of their music transcended something the big arena concerts cannot touch. There was no money involved. Ok, sure, I know there must be some stipend or some monetary lure to play in a bookstore. Maybe not. Maybe this band loves playing so much, they just show up one night on the bill at a bookstore in downtown Charleston.
Regardless, the band members spoke with us, the audience, lending us background inspiration for many of their songs. After the set, I made a lame attempt to convey to them that this two-hour set was likely the finest set of music I’ve ever experienced. I don’t wish to detract from the great concerts I’ve attended like Heart’s performance in Wheeling, WV on their Bebe le Strange tour.
It all comes back to that intangible, no intangibles. The Parachute Brigade sang and played their asses off tonight. The connection between artists and audience soared into a music paradise. I’ve pulled a link to the Parachute Brigade covering Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” in a studio setting. An AWESOME rendition, but I’m telling you, tonight, in quaint little Taylor Books on Capital Street in Charleston WV, the version I heard blows away even this excellent rendtion.
It all comes down to the musician’s passion, their passion for playing live, and the connection they successfully built with their audience. This acoustic version of the Parachute Brigade blew me away. Don’t pass on a chance to attend a live performance by this nine-year-old band. You will not be disappointed.
As promised, the link to the Tom Petty cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7a15YNe6Xo&t=353s
Yes, 7.5 billion people missed out on this marvelous evening of music. I won’t speak for the 20 or so other souls who were fortunate to be there, but I count myself one of the twenty luckiest people on Earth because of this evening. I hope to get many more opportunities to enjoy The Parachute Brigade live and in person!