Monday, August 25, 2008

Sweep The Leg Tour featuring Keaton Simons + Todd Carey + Curtis Peoples

I was invited to the Sweep the Leg Tour featuring Keaton Simons, Todd Carey, and Curtis Peoples playing at our local music joint, Jammin' Java. The tour consists of consecutive dates from August 21st at the Great Scott outside of Boston and ending September 2nd at the Intersection in Grand Rapids Michigan. A very draining schedule. I was a little hesitant after seeing the word "Pop" in the show's description on Jammin' Java's website, but went ahead anyway. It was a very fortunate decision; I "discovered" a couple new acts that I will now follow reguarly.

Curtis Peoples started the evening, accompanied by Keaton Simons on electric guitar and current band members Daniel Crawford on bass (he's normally Peoples' electric guitarist) and crowd favorite Darla on drums. Immediately I liked seeing Simons playing with Peoples, and later Carey joined him on stage. I think this is a great concept - where artists support each other on stage. Peoples is touring in conjunction his debut self Titled CD, Curtis Peoples, in which he sang a half dozen songs. I was really impressed with this young artist, both his musical abilities and stage presence. He has already learned how to use his sense of humor to transition into the next song or story. It works to his advantage even when he breaks the bass guitar and when he explained that the name of the tour came from his 80's obsession. Think Karate Kid. Musically, he has a strong voice that complements both the acoustic singer songwriter sound as well as the more rockin' songs. I look forward to receiving the new CD. During the set he got in a good rhythm playing "Wake Up", "One More Time", and "Exit Scene". I now see why he has toured in the past with Josh Kelley, Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers, and Tim Reynolds. He has been added to my favorites.

Todd Carey performed next and this performance justified my early concerns about "Pop" tours. He seemed a little too pushy, requesting audience participation immediately, when most were just trying to learn who he was. And he seemed to croon too long on his ballads - as if he was playing to an all female audience. However he has a great voice and there seemed to be rock influences waiting to erupt. Since he has toured with many acts we follow and respect, Jason Reeves and Brendan James in particular, I decided to download a few of the songs he played from his website. The songs were better than the live performance, especially "Back Off Baby" and "Watching Waiting". I still don't know if I'd purchase his latest CD, Watching Waiting, but that is just my personal opinion. Obviously his large cadre of fans disagree and that's the beauty of music; people have different tastes. Carey is obviously attracting and retaining this fan base, and good for him. When his rock side emerges, we will be back for a second look.

Keaton Simons closed the show with an excellent performance. Of the three, Simons displayed the best stage presence and musical prowess. His guitar playing the entire night was excellent, whether he was backing the other artists or playing alone. Once again, Darla and Crawford accompanied the artist, and his set consisted mostly of songs from his his debut CD, Can You Hear Me. His voice is raspy-bluesy reminding me of John Hyatt. I liked all the songs: "Without Your Skin", "Good Things Get Better", "To Me"...... This is one CD I will rush out to purchase. And his cover of Muddy water's "Catfish Blues" was awesome. Simons made it his own while simultaneously paying tribute to one of American music's founding fathers. It was no surprise to learn that many of his songs have been included in movie soundtracks and he has made multiple appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. There's not much more to say, this is a rising star - catch him now so that you can say, "I saw Keaton Simons when he was playing at....."

Curtis Peoples

Todd Carey

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