Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
his wasn't the typical night of music from Chris Young, Russell Dickerson or Gone West. In this case, being atypical was a good thing and a different way of listening to their music.
The three were in town for a radio station WBWL The Bull worthy benefit for St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. where patients pay zero for their treatment.
Young was by far the most obvious country-based singer on the night. That was more than obvious from the launching of his set with "Gettin' You Home (The Black Dress Song)."
One consistent element of Young's hour-plus-long set was he has a dyed-in-the-wool, full-bodied country voice. There was a lot of timbre and emotion in his delivery that reeked of authenticity.
Young was a laid back, engaging presence, easily interacting with the crowd from the get go (commenting how his electric guitarist Kevin Collier received a cheer before they had even played one note). He assured one fan that, no, in fact, he had not met her in Nashville five days ago despite her insistence because he was not there. His easy-going presence served him well.
Young grew serous with his current single, "Drowning," based on the tragic death of a friend in a car accident in his 20s. Young had no thoughts that this would be a single until his longstanding record label, RCA, intervened. Good move because the sad song is a keeper.
He offered partial covers of two Keith Whitley songs - "Don't Close Your Eyes" and "When You Say Nothing At All." Young's worthy versions of the songs by his late hero rang true.
About the only criticism that could be leveled at Young was that he only played snippets of a few songs - "About You" and "Tomorrow."
Such may be the nature of the format in what was a freewheeling, no set list night of country music from Young. Put simply, he was a pleasure to listen to.
Dickerson appeared solo acoustic with a lot of personality to go with his soulful vocals. Dickerson has enjoyed a lot of success with three straight singles - "Yours," "Blue Tacoma" and the current "Every Little Thing."
Dickerson could not be accused of being hard-core country by any measure. What he does have going for him are silky, soulful vocals in the realm of Billy Currington and Brett Eldredge. Dickerson's songs may not have cut very deep, but they did provide ear candy during his 50-minute set.
Dickerson also wasn't afraid to reach back into his past with his very first single, "That's My Girl," from 2011, which was based on seeing his now wife parallel park her car in college and written with Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, who would go on fame as Florida Georgia Line. Dickerson leaned on his wife for the inspiration for "Every Little Thing."
Sprinkling his songs with stories (and thus going on longer than apparently allotted), Dickerson said that after one year of marriage, he and his wife made a combined $12,000, which led to the lead-off song "Billions."
Somehow things can change with a few hits under your belt and a personality to put the songs across.
Gone West was described in the intro as the country Fleetwood Mac. That assessment was pretty much on target. The band is comprised of husband and wife couples Colby Caillat and Justin Young, and Jason Reeves and his wife Nelly Joy, who once upon a time was one-half of The Jane Dear Girls.
While Caillat is the best known thanks to her solo career stint, Gone West was a group effort. Caillat tended to, at least, start the songs, but pretty soon, most of the others would kick in vocally with lots of California sunshine pop meeting the pop side of country.
There were lots of good sounds and vocals emanating from Gone West, especially when Joy and Caillat took over.