Rockland Town Turns Into Countryland County
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch
Country came to Rockland County, New York with Darius Rucker and the Carolina Grey Boys on July 12, 2013. Fans arrived early at Provident Bank Park in Pomona to tailgate. Some were sporting either cowboy boots, hats or both. Despite the damp weather folks were determined to have fun and when Darius and his band appeared after eight a little rain was no deterrent to admirers who jump the barricades to swarm closer to the stage.
Rock icon Darius Rucker has become a country music superstar in a few short years.
Darius Rucker is a chart topping country musician as well as a successful rock star. His latest album True Believers (2013) follows in the tradition of country with its real-life stories of pain, passion and pleasure.
True Believers runs the bases from the feel good "Radio" to a break up song with vocalist Mallary Hope. Darius also had the opportunity to work with Sheryl Crow on "Love Without You" and perform a version of "Wagon Wheel" with Old Crow Medicine Show on his new record.
Darius Rucker is touring in support of True Believers which included a stop in Pomona. Interestingly, this was the first concert of the 2013 season held at this baseball field, which means another opening for the man who was the first African-American to win the CMA New Artist of the Year Award (2009).
Lights were flashing as the team took the stage. They were on a winning streak from the first song to the last with fans clapping and singing along throughout the whole concert. Darius presented a diverse show. His sound blends the best of country with rock. Guitars, bass, drums and keys propelled the tracks and traditional country instruments such as the banjo, fiddle and steel added all the accents. Rucker's rich vocals hit home with authenticity and emotion.
Despite the rain Rucker and Co. seemed to be having fun on stage.
A prime example of Darius' magical melding of musical worlds was their take on Steve Miller's "The Joker" which combined rock tempos with country textures. Darius was energized and in good voice and he expertly engaged the crowd while his teammates the Carolina Grey Boys were tight and in the zone.
"I used to live in New York City and that was when I realized I was too country to be living in New York which led into "Southern State of Mind". The descriptive song of southern traditions was sweet with the pedal steel and piano adding to the imagery. The next tune "It Won't Be Like This For Long" was also vibrant and visual. It was a reflective look at life and raising children.
"Thank you all for braving the weather," said Rucker referring to the steady drizzle that began to fall at the start of his set. Darius returned to his rock roots with Hootie & The Blowfish's "Only Wanna Be With You". The song kept true to the original form with the banjo enhancing the countrified elements that the Carolina Grey Boys batted in.
Rucker mentioned his new record and they performed the radio friendly "Radio" to his receptive audience. A big radio dial behind the band enhanced the vibe of song. Lighting and videos were used during the concert to add to the overall impact of the music.
Darius takes a moment to enjoy the rowdy and raucous fans in the outfield.
Standing in the spotlight with an acoustic, Darius strummed the first notes to "Let Her Cry" before the band joined in giving this Hootie hit a country tone. It was a double play when they played a spirited "Hold My Hand" with the fiddle at the forefront. The song "This" was thrilling and "Family Tradition" had all the traditional twangy elements and emotions of a good old county tune.
"True Believers" was another sensitive song about settling down and struggles. Pictures of towers and time punctuated the poignant points of this set closing song. The extra innings included a whirling version of "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show.
At the home stretch, the rain was coming down harder and they appropriately performed "Purple Rain" putting their own special spin on the Prince classic. Despite the weather this was an enjoyable concert. Rucker and his band were victorious by hitting country and rock songs out of the park.
John & Jacob were an enjoyable country pop duo.
Opening for Darius Rucker were two young and up-and-coming artists. The first was 16 year old Madeline Smith. Madeline - a New Jersey native - shared that she had just released her first album by way of Nashville. She was a strong singer with a solid band and the songs that she performed sounded promising.
John and Jacob from Birmingham, Alabama were an energetic duo also backed by a talented team. Both groups appeared confident on stage and had a nice blend of up-tempo songs and it will be interesting to see it these rookies can advance to the big leagues to become country superstars like Darius.
Provident Bank Park in Pomona, New York provides a bigger venue for major acts such as Darius Rucker to perform in this "up-state" community. It has general admission in front of the stage or seats along with areas to mingle where we met a nice couple (Ralphie and Joanne). In August, the lineup at Provident Bank Park is the Beach Boys on the 14th and the Charlie Daniel's Band with .38 Special on the 28th.
Darius Rucker and the Carolina Grey Boys: Darius Rucker - lead vocals & guitar; John Mason - bass; Lee Turner - keyboards; Garry Murray - fiddle & guitar; Alexander "Sasha" Ostrovusky - pedal steel guitar & banjo; Jeff Marino - drums & band leader; Quinton Gibson - lead guitar
New Jersey native Madeline Smith was celebrating the release of her debut album.
(Originally Published on July 14, 2013)
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