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The Red Clay Strays are mighty fine, whatever the genre

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., October 12, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The Red Clay Strays do not readily fall into a musical genre. Country, gospel, Southern rock and a bit of a soulful feel are among the flavors the Mobile, Ala.-based quintet plays. They were adept at all of them in this sold-out show.

Never accuse of The Red Clay Strays about of being stingy with their time either. They clocked in at 2-1/4 hours, and there was no let up from start to finish in a stellar outing that showcased a band with tremendous talent.

It all started with the lanky (6-6) lead singer Brandon Coleman. He was a most unassuming lead figure. He had a few comments here and there, but it was more his delivery that scored a lot of points. Coleman's charisma was innate. You had the distinct feeling he inhabited the songs. The gospel songs – not something heard all that often around these parts, but he led off the six-song encore solo with "Will the Lord Remember Me" – also obviously spoke to him.

As the concert neared the end, one wondered if Coleman was going to levitate, he was shaking so much. Drummer John Hall pretty much did. He apparently was so moved by the music, he got off his seat and stood up waving his arms with glee.

This was no one-man band however. The dual electric guitar attack of Drew Nix and Zach Rishel made sure of that. They particularly made their mark teaming up for double guitar attacks on the Southern rock-styled songs with a lot of slide.

Nix also acquitted himself as a fine country singer with a trio of songs – "Between the Lines," "Oxmoor Valley" and a cover of John Prine's "Pretty Good" - mid-way in the set.

With an album coming out at some point – Coleman gave no indication when – The Red Clay Strays played 11 unreleased songs. That could be a lot to ask of fans, but that was not the case tonight because of high-end quality of the songs ("Devil in My Ear" was among the standouts).

The Red Clay Strays may not easily be classified, but that's okay. They're mighty fine with whatever they do.

Cincinnati native Noel Taylor opened with a nine-song set that worked well for the most part. Like Coleman, the burly singer with a mountain man beard was also down to earth. He sort of is in the Zach Bryan/Charles Wesley Godwin musical space.

He would have been better served with a greater clarity of vocals, which were a bit muddy in the mix at times.

The same would not be said for his guitarist, Clarke Sexton. That guy can play.

There was enough there from Taylor to make him bear watching.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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