Many thanks to Jon Waits for this review and photos of last week’s Thursday Night Opry with The Train Wrecks, The Accomplices, and City Hotel.
On a colder than usual evening last week, musical camaraderie and soulful performances warmed the crowd that found their way down to Telfair Square, and through the tall doors of Trinity United Methodist Church. A concert series spearheaded by music director of Trinity and Velvet Caravan keyboardist, Jared Hall, broke new ground by inviting the public into the sanctuary to hear acoustic performances by three of Savannah’s finest bands. Based loosely on the old school style of a single microphone centered amongst the entertainers on stage, the Thursday Night Opry was something that Savannah has been missing.
First up were The Train Wrecks, who offered a tamer version of their usual bar-stomp & howl, which has earned them the honorary title of ‘Savannah’s hardest gigging band’. Drummer Jeremy Hammons played snare standing up in the Stray Cats style, with Stu Harmening showcasing his skills on the dobro, sans pedal & effects. As usual, Eric Dunn gave his double-bass that proper thumping that you don’t hear with an electric, and Jason Bible stretched his legs and range with more focus on nuance than volume. As a wonderful surprise, well known violinist/fiddler Ricardo Ochoa of Velvet Caravan lent his expertise, rounding out the Train Wrecks’ sound for the night.
Next in line were The Accomplices, whose natural ability and experience with performing in all types of arrangements was obvious from the get-go. With a new album almost completed, they salted their set with tunes that the audience knew and loved, but also peppered in new material that fit the feeling of the night perfectly. Their unique blend of lowcountry string music, a touch of jazz & blues, and an edge of rock n’ roll attitude produced the ideal tempo (driven by Stan Ray’s imaginative percussion via brushes and an old cardboard box) to get everyone ready for the last set of the evening. Colleen Heine, Zach Smith, and Matt Eckstine gave it their all, and delivered.
Meanwhile, in the green room (see church fellowship hall) City Hotel was banging out the bluegrass in anticipation of their turn. Hopping onstage they quickly wowed the audience with hot banjo licks and the more traditional sound that they’re known for. This was music meant for an attentive & appreciative ‘listening room’ crowd, and they brought it in spades. Anthony Teixeira’s upright bass provided the slap, Cory Chambers’ mandolin brought the high pickin’ notes, Baby Jay Rudd’s banjo followed calls from Aaron Zimmer’s rhythm, and a harmonica wailed across the room. At one point they acknowledged that they might be pushing the time limit of their set, but decided that the crowd would be treated to a few more. Nobody complained.
At last, all musicians (Jared Hall included) came back up and treated everyone to a ‘super-jam’ performance which brought the evening’s sound and emotion to a crescendo. Listening to the voices and instruments harmonizing, one might have thought they were watching a single band, but it was simply good friends & great musicians doing what they do best…picking and grinning together.
For more information concerning the concert series, and upcoming performances please visit the Trinity United Methodist Church website.
Written & Photographed by Jon Waits / Photo Use courtesy of Trinity UMC