Posted by: cosborn | September 4, 2008

Charliehorse – Ranch House Concert – August 30th

Charliehorse, a band from Fayetteville, Arkansas, performed at a Ranch House Concert last Friday night.

I’ll get to the band in a minute, but first let me tell you a little about Ranch House concerts. http://www.ranchhouseconcerts.com/ The setting is intimate, small and makes for a very enjoyable setting to hear music. I’m not certain what capacity is for these shows, but it seems like about 60 – 70 people will fit easily into the room. Charliehorse was the 11th event, and like all of the others I’ve attended, people bring a dish, some drinks and it’s a pot luck to go along with the music. If you have access to house concerts, I encourage you to check one out. They are a lot of fun. I’ve met some great people and seen some very good shows in the mix.

Okay – Charliehorse. This is a nice band that “feels” like they are on the upswing. I believe this was their first show of any type in St. Louis, and I hope they return to a club venue. They used their regular set up, so there we no compromises to the small size of the setting. However, the volume wasn’t overwhelming. SO that was very good.

Their show was well paced and energetic. It was a bit uneven, but the high points were very nice. Charliehorse played mostly orginal songs, and most of them can be found on their only release to date. Here is a link to their My Space page. www.myspace.com/charliehorseband

The band is lead by a very talented singer -Ben Wardlaw. Ben has a rich, soulful voice. The band also includes Cody Russell who played pedal steel and banjo. Cody was very good, and he really shone on multiple songs. The beauty of house concerts is the chance to actually meet the band, and these guys seem very down to earth and nice. I must point out that a musical highlight came on a cover song, though. They did a rock and roll arrangement of the Uncle Tupelo song – Give Back the Key to My Heart. Unlike the UT recording, Charliehorse gave the song some real emotional urgency and energy. The original really pales in comparison to these guy’s arrangement and performance.

I also bought their CD – “Come On.” The CD contains some nice moments, but like the live show, it also a little uneven. However, Charliehorse has the feel of a band on the rise. They got raves for their SWSX performance, and I can see why. I hope they can get a deal or work out a way to record their next release in a top notch studio with a good producer. That would be fun to hear how that might work.

On the whole – I’d give the record a thumbs up, and I’d recommend seeing the band live if you get the chance.

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