GIRL IN YOUR TRUCK SONG – MAGGIE ROSE
Download Maggie’s new single through iTunes: HERE
Music venues are ranked based on their size and desirability within the industry. Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl, are all marquee venues that indicate one’s status as an artist by having played there. For some, it’s the pinnacle of their career. But prior to performing on those grand stages, these acts will play plenty of local venues, honing their performance skills in anticipation of big cities, bright lights. The smaller venues scattered across the music map will have to compete with one another for big name acts and patrons alike to fill their limited spaces. The owners work diligently to find their entertainment and even harder to bring the fans in. When you find the right connection between act and audience, the end result can feel like a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall. Something organic happens in small venues. Absent the glitz and glamor, the music takes center stage. You can’t rely on state of the art acoustics, comfortable seating, or media enhancements to your set. You’re there with the basics, and you have to make that work, and and the beauty of that is….anything can happen.
The TALLY HO Theatre was built in 1932 in Leesburg, Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC. It fronts a quaint downtown street in what is now the historic district. It was originally built as a movie theater with a stage for live performances as well. It was purchased two years ago by its current owners, Jack and Don Devine, and has since been renovated to accommodate a variety of stage and floor set ups. The theater seats have been removed and the slanted floor remains open to allow for a standing room only crowd of 650. The night I was there it was set with chairs to the left and right of center stage, leaving an open aisle between for standing and dancing. High top tables with stools were set up along the outer walls. The balcony area above serves as a VIP lounge offering guaranteed seating and access to food and drinks. On the main level there are two bars serving beer and wine, one in the lobby and one in the rear of the theater with high top table seating. A light menu is available offering finger foods made fresh at La Lou Bistro next door. Merchandise tables for each of the artists were set up in the bar area. The show on this evening started at 8pm with doors opening at 7pm. Our tickets were scanned as we waited in line outside the front doors and hand stamps were given to those 21 and over with proper identification. This proved to be a very efficient way of handling the entry process. In every aspect, the staff at the Tally Ho was polite, professional, and always helpful. As a matter of additional conveniences offered, free parking is available in the parking garage adjacent to the theater. La Lou Bistro is located next door, providing the perfect spot for a pre-show dinner. They serve exceptional Mediterranean cuisine in a casually elegant setting. At the Tally Ho, happy hour drink specials are offered in the hour between doors opening and show time. The night I was there the special was Blue Moon on tap for $3. This provided the perfect setting for what was sure to be a fabulous night of live music!
The Morrison Brothers Band brought their local roots to the Tally Ho for a performance that was a declarative statement. Having taken the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote ALS awareness just minutes before taking the stage, it was imperative that they heat up the stage, and their body temps – rapidly. They opened with Delbert McClinton’s classic hit, “Everytime I Roll the Dice.” Lead singer, Willie Morrison, delivers this one like testimony from a tent revival. The bluesy grit he draws through his vocal chords will make you a believer. Amen and hallelujah! Feeling like you’ve Never Been Rocked Enough? Prepare yourself for a country blues sermon, only out here, we’ll call it the Leesburg Address. They followed that one with a couple of songs off their latest album, State of The Union. The instrumentation and vocal approach they used on these had a different feel than the studio sound. Kevin Nolan led on guitar and set the groove for an intimate jam session with “Easily Pleased.” Willie’s vocals followed the groove and melded with the moment. In “Gimme All the Love,” the jam session unfolded, inviting the other instrumentalists to participate. Harmonies lifted the music and Matt Nolan on drums reigned them in for a finish that had the audience clapping along. Clearly an amen from the crowd!
Keeping the jam session alive, they debuted a new song that took off like a train ride and we were the lucky passengers. Matt Nolan was clearly in the engineer’s seat on drums with the guitars helping to pull the song along the tracks. Just as it would slow to gather steam, it would race off again at Matt’s command, all with Willie singing off the back of the caboose, reminding us where we’d been in those passing miles. As the trees fall away in the distance, trigger the whistle and the puff of smoke, this relationship just went “Up in smoke, down in flames/Jump on up, rolling like a freight train.” MBB’s cover of “Up In Smoke” could very well be their signature sound. Willie’s vocal is spectacular here and the tight musicianship behind him makes this a standout moment in their set. From there, they debuted two new songs set to be released in the coming months that are both testaments to love. It was a two-sided musical approach to the same sentiment. Either way, the crowd loved it all. Covering Sturgill Simpson’s “Life Ain’t Fair & the World Is Mean” brought that train back to the tent revival. Willie’s vocal was pure honky tonk preachin’ with every instrument providing its own unique amen.
Having captured the attention of everyone by this point, the last few songs in their set put an exclamation point on who they are as a band. “Without Me” was the only ballad of the night and a showcase song for them to silence the crowd with the emotion they bring to it. This one got a huge reaction, and they followed that up with another show stopper. “Copperhead Road” is an iconic Steve Earle song. For some bands, taking that on might be risky. Not here. Drummer, Matt Nolan, OWNS this song! It’s the only one he takes lead vocals on, twisting the power of his voice around the forceful performance he gives on drums. The other instruments attempt to take on this venomous explosion of sound but the bite of this copperhead proves fatal, making this a KILLER song! Can’t say he didn’t warn us to stay away from Copperhead Road. Willie rolls out the blues for their cover of Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble.” His interpretation brings a depth of emotion to the song that the instrumentation supports. The set ends with the reveal of another new song set to be released as the snow starts falling. It’s a beautiful song that somehow manages an upbeat bluesy feel to it that will have you wanting to dance barefoot in the summertime. Having done their time at the tent revival, The Morrison Brothers Band leaves us with a shot of “Little Miss Whiskey.” After all that redemption, the crowd reacted with a cheer for the whiskey and it set the mood for the party the Girl in Your Truck Song was about to bring to the stage!
When I arrived at the Tally Ho, Maggie Rose’s stage set up was in place. The first thing that caught my eye was the drum head. The large picture of Maggie’s face that was on it was tagged ‘MAGGIE ROSE BAND.’ That moniker spoke volumes about the show we were about to see and even more about the woman the band is named for. Maggie Rose is no diva. She does not take the stage and demand the spotlight. She opened her set with a song that invited us to the party she was throwing on her home turf. She grew up just 36 miles from the venue. As the hostess, the first thing she did when the song ended was politely introduce the group by saying, “I’m Maggie Rose and we are the Maggie Rose Band.” It would be the only formality of the evening. From that moment on, we were treated like friends and family who’d been invited for drinks and entertainment after work. TGIF! She made us feel welcome from the outset. At the start of the second song, she engaged with the family and friends gathered there and invited us into the performance. The song, “Fall Madly In Love With You,” explained her reticence for following the rules and expressed her desire to just get on with things. From that bold move, she made another.
Without giving us a chance to pass judgment on her intentions, the band, as if having her back, played boldly behind her “Mostly Bad” confession. It was a shameless vocal with no discretion in its intention to make us all sinners. The forbidden fruit she sings of is a dress that’s Cut To Impress, but with her powers of vocal persuasion, fashion choice is irrelevant. The audience reaction was clearly ‘show us your horns, Maggie. Halos are overrated.’ Imploring us to support her choices and join the chorus, she turned up the heat with an ELO cover of “Don’t Bring Me Down.” This throwback to a rock classic was not the least bit out of its era in this setting. Maggie’s musical soul seems to transcend her youth and she delivered with the authenticity of a vinyl recording. It got a huge response from the crowd. At this point in the set, Maggie brought the audience closer to her, not in a physical way, but rather in making an emotional connection through her commentary and the music. Embracing the family atmosphere she’d created, it would be the first of several times throughout the evening that she would give a shout out to her opening act. She applauded them as if she were a proud sister, and encouraged us to do the same. From here, she started to share pieces of her life with us as they related to the songs she performed. In the spirit of TGIF, she said they’d written this one in the back of the tour bus to capture the feeling of celebrating the weekend. The band’s emphatic performance of “Goodbye Monday” invited the audience to participate in this joy ride set to music.
This led to one of the more intimate parts of the set, which included two songs that Maggie poured her broken heart into. She’s begun work on her second album and we were treated to one of the songs that’ll be on it. “When You Drink Tonight” is a bad relationship inspired song that everyone can relate to. There’s a strength and tenderness to it that only Maggie can deliver, making it a musical salve for the heart. Cementing her bond with the audience, she shared her personal connection to her hit single, “Better.” There’s a thread that runs through this song that started when Maggie first heard it. Over the years, as fans have told her what the song means to them, she said it resonates with a deeper meaning every time she sings it. The emotion she captured in this vocal with its accompanying harmonies and instrumentation was simply magnificent. This was performance art at its finest. After this show stopper, Maggie introduced the members of her incredible band. They are: Jason Graumlich on guitar from Nashville; Sarah Tomek on drums from Asbury Park, NJ; Tim Braisted on bass from PA; Zac Lasher on keys from Brooklyn; and Luke Moller on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar from Melbourne, Australia. This mixture of hometowns together on one stage, and that being a country stage on this night, led perfectly into Maggie’s reality check song, “Hollywood.” For those who think they’re above country music lyrics, she holds their lives up to a mirror in this one and tells ‘em what’s what. “Dysfunctions, dysfunction/No matter what state you come from.” The crowd finished this one and roared their approval! Again, showing her love for The Morrison Brothers Band and the many times they’ve played together, she reveals a little secret here. Sorry. What happens in Leesburg, stays in Leesburg.
As any good hostess would do, Maggie checked in with her guests frequently throughout the show, just to make sure we were all still having a good time. After treating us to some “Good Clean Fun,” she invited everyone to see her after the show so she could meet all of her new friends. This led into a part of the show that demonstrated the diversity that Maggie Rose brings to the stage. Her rendition of the Hank Williams classic, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” was a jaw dropping vocal, accompanied by instrumentation that fed off the soul in her voice. Had you closed your eyes and just listened, you would swear you were in a 1940s blues club. No one can top what she did with that song. Stunning, MAGGIE ROSE! Wondering how the hell she was going to follow that, she takes us to an execution. Her own. Providing the background for this single, “Looking Back Now,” her friend, Lisa Carver, wrote it the first year she was in Nashville. Maggie marveled at her friend’s ability to put “Sodium theopentol drips” legitimately in a song lyric. The novelty of this song was too good to pass on so in a way that only Maggie could, she turned a double murder/execution into a hit song. You go girl! Setting up the next song, she shared a little of her background with drummer, Sarah Tomek. At 15, Maggie was part of a Springsteen tribute band called the B Street Band. She met Sarah while playing at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. What better way to reminisce than with a Springsteen song. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” brought the Jersey Shore to Leesburg! This was definitely a crowd pleaser. Changing gears and taking us back to the country, the band kicked it up with “You Never Drank With Country.”
Putting her musical signature on the evening, Maggie finished with three sensational observations from the female side of things. “Girl In Your Truck Song” is her latest single and one that’s perfect for singing along with the windows rolled down on a summer night. Here, she reminds us what’s missing in all those cliched truck songs and offers to fill that void. This one got a great reception from the crowd. Bringing us in closer, she hesitates and asks if she can tell us a secret. Calling us family, she wants to share the secret behind her dark and dramatic song, “Preacher’s Daughter.” With the drum backing her up for emphasis, she let the bombshell explode across the room. Starting the song off with instrumentation that suggests a showdown in a small western town, this is the original “Got a real good feelin’ something bad about to happen.” Her dramatic delivery of this one was murder mystery brilliant. I’ll smile every time I hear this song from now on, just thinking about Maggie’s revenge. Sorry, no tabloid journalism is going to reveal this front page secret. If you want to know what really happened, check out Maggie’s tour schedule. It’s best she tell you this one herself. With our hostess ready to say her farewell, she thanks everyone for coming, shouts out her band and The Morrison Brothers one more time, and leaves the men in the room with this thought, “Guys, we love ya, but “I Ain’t Your Momma.” It was a perfect end to a MAGGIE ROSE kind of night.
Live music events are a staple of weekend entertainment plans. The vast majority of these will not take place in grand venues like Carnegie Hall. Instead, local concert halls, theaters, and bars will play host to up and coming acts as well as seasoned veterans of the concert circuit. Acting as a supportive family, they provide the stages and a place for fans to gather, listen to, and applaud their efforts. Coming to the Tally Ho felt like being welcomed in by an old friend. It’s a warm, inviting place where you can share a few drinks with friends and listen to some fantastic live music. Every aspect of the experience they provide shows a deep appreciation for music and the potential that hovers over a live performance. As a fan of live music, conditions don’t come any better than this. It’s a TGIF environment without the hassles of a typical bar scene, alive with the possibilities an unrestrained jam session can bring. The combination of homegrown talents, The Morrison Brothers Band and MAGGIE ROSE, was a perfect display of the best our State of The Union has to offer. Local talent, combined with a local venue and the people who’ve been fans supporting their journey, is a fitting tribute to the community effort it takes to launch a music career. Dreams of bigger stages start on smaller ones just like this. The Morrison Brothers Band‘s “Small Town” explains that “To save my soul I need another taste/of the place I used to be.” Having gone off to New York City, they realize “This big city sure has found/the small town in me.” The quality of their live show is big city. The sentiments expressed are small town. Their delivery is jam session passionate, intimate and full of raw emotion. What connects them to MAGGIE ROSE, like family, is the deep way they connect with the music and the soul their music reveals. Willie Morrison called Maggie Rose “the queen,” but you won’t see her sitting on any throne. Maggie’s throne is the stage on which she sings the blues. No crown needed to display the command she has when she sings. She rules from the microphone. “Put Yourself In My Blues” is a formal invitation to her live show. No one gets more life out of the music than Maggie Rose, and what she gets, she gives back tenfold to her audience in a breathtaking performance. Leaving the show, someone said to me, “WOW! That MAGGIE ROSE can really sing.” The only answer that seemed appropriate… “Hell yeah!”
From WAYNorthofNashville.…..Bev Miskus
Bringing the stories of country music to life!
Note: The other two members of The Morrison Brothers Band who were not mentioned by name in this article are Truman Morrison on guitar and Dave Benson on bass.
Because Maggie considers her family too, a big shout out goes to the fabulous Raina, who handles the merchandise table brilliantly! Her recommendation of the pink shirt was spot on! LOVE IT Raina! Thanks!
Visit Maggie’s website for tour dates and ticket information about upcoming shows: http://iammaggierose.com/#up
“Like” her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IAmMaggieRose
Follow her on Twitter @IamMaggieRose
Follow her on Instagram: http://instagram.com/iammaggierose
Subscribe to her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/MaggieRoseVideos
Cut To Impress is available through iTunes: HERE
Watch the video for “Looking Back Now”!!
Visit THE MORRISON BROTHERS BAND website at: http://themorrisonbrothersband.com/
“Like” them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheMorrisonBrothersBand
Follow them on Twitter @TheMorrisonBros
Follow them on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/themorrisonbros
Watch their YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/27Footsteps
Preview and purchase their albums through iTunes:
Midnight In Virginia: HERE
Shotgun Silhouette: HERE
State of The Union: HERE
Watch the video for “Little Miss Whiskey”!!
There’s nothing better than LIVE music and nothing worse than a loved one not returning home from that great concert. Drink responsibly. Enjoy the show. Drive safe. Thanks for the reminder Budweiser!!