Saturday, 14 April 2012

Stacie Collins The Musician, Leicester Friday 6th April 2012


If you like your country – loud, rocking and raucous – you need to look no further than the music that is being produced and performed by the Nashville based artist, Stacie Collins. This honky tonk, southern rock influenced musician is starting to build a considerable following this side of the Atlantic as Stacie and her band are beginning to reap the benefits of putting in the hard yards of regular visits to the UK, mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Her current tour, under the ‘very countrified’ banner ‘Three Chords and a Cloud of Dust’, has included a visit to the Musician Pub in Leicester for the third straight year and, on this occasion, the size of the crowd was swelled by a Friday night slot.

As usual, the harmonica playing and vocal skills of Stacie are supported by three musical band members led by husband and bassist, Al Collins who, in his other job, is a member of established country rock stalwarts, Jason and the Scorchers. This tour has seen a change in backing musicians with Jason Graumlich on lead guitar and, sporting a ‘Hank 3’ t-shirt, Brad Cummings on drums but in essence the sound and style of the Stacie Collins Band remains unaltered and reasonably uncomplicated.

Although she released a self produced record over a decade ago, a Stacie Collins show is constructed around the two most recent recordings that have helped grow her audience worldwide along with a few well chosen covers from country rock’s rich past. It was a track from her 2007 album ‘Lucky Spot’ that launched the show with ‘Baby Sister’ although it was a little surprising that Stacie left the title track from that album out of the set especially as she normally introduces it as being written on the basis of a true family story. However the enthusiastic audience were treated to other tracks from this album such as the impressive ‘Ramblin’ , ‘Show Your Mama’ and ‘It Ain’t Love'.

When Stacie appeared at the Musician last year, she was specifically promoting her 2010 release ‘Sometimes Ya Gotta’, now twelve months on, some of these songs have become firm live favourites such as ‘Hey Mister’ , ‘I Won’t Do Ya Like That’ and ‘Tied To You’. She had to apologise for not being able to afford to bring the accordion player to accompany ‘Carry Me Away’ but the song is an excellent one anyway that it still came over well. Stacie also tests her vocal skills to the full when performing the rock ballad ‘It Hurts To Breathe’ and on an evening when she admitted to not feeling 100%, gave an excellent rendition of the song with full appreciative encouragement from husband Al, who also gave her a little reprieve when taking over the vocals on the band’s version of the old Ozark Mountain Devils’ number, ‘If You Wanna Get To Heaven’. As well as paying tribute to a giant from the southern rock movement, the band also celebrated the work of country rock pioneer, Gram Parsons with a cover of his song ‘Ooh Las Vegas’.

With the aid of some unspecified medication and rock ‘n’ roll adrenaline, Stacie managed to get through the show and ended the evening with two familiar numbers that drifted a little from their country sound and more into mainstream rock. First of all it was the Rolling Stones ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ that preceded the encore before the final number being a version of the AC/DC song ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’. At this point, Al signalled the end of the evening but, at over ninety minutes long, the crowd were treated to a value for money show.

With only a handful of UK gigs on this current European tour, the band are scheduled to return to these shores in July when they have a slot at the Americana International Festival. Hopefully they may even be able to fit in a couple more shows around this appearance.

Local bands, The Midnight Dogs and The Outwoods County Riders, provided the support with two sets that fully complemented the sound of Stacie Collins.

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