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Real deal Munsick keeps the country pledge

House of Blues , Boston, November 11, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

"Don't you think country music needs more fiddle in it?" Ian Munsick questioned the crowd ending the comment that was more like a statement with emphasis, before pledging, "I promise you Boston as long as long as I'm playing country music, there will be fiddle in country music. There will be western in country music. There will be country in country music."

That's a mighty bold pledge to make these days when it's hard to find instruments like fiddle and pedal steel in country music, even though both in the good old days were staples of the genre. But the Wyoming native stuck to his musical guns and played honest-to-goodness country music.

With that Munsick closed out the night with the traditional country sound – that meant fiddle and country-styled drumming – of "Horses Are Faster."

Munsick's vision of country was shaped by his surroundings. He grew up on a ranch. So when you come up with songs like the slinky "Cowboy Killer" and "Long Live Cowgirls" – both can play to the crowd, but with a country sound – that was no surprise. Unlike some contemporary artists who are all about pick-up trucks and hot chicks, the very long-haired Munsick is a son of the West with songs referencing horses and "Cowshit in the Morning."

About the only downer was a short medley of pop songs of yesteryear – "No Scrubs" from TLC, "Toxic" from Britney Spears and "Say Your Name" courtesy of Queen Bey Beyonce. The songs were so antithetical to the rest of his set that it was a puzzler as to why he decided to include them at all.

Aside from that, Munsick was most definitively an upbeat, engaging performer comfortable in his own brand of country.

Despite all the commercial country out there, which many argue is hard to call country, Munsick is of a different ilk. With shows like this, Munsick ought to keep his promise not only to his fans, but to himself. Here's hoping he continues playing country music.

Munsick recounted that when he was 18, he saw the opening act, Chancey Williams, perform and at some level, that apparently steered him on his path. Munsick, in effect, may have paid it forward by having Williams on tour. And he also gave Williams just about one full hour onstage, far far more than opening acts typically receive.

Williams deserved the long set as well in song after song from the opening "Rodeo Cold Beer" to the closing "The World Needs More Cowboys." Like Munsick, Williams also is a product of the Wyoming ranch life. Thus, songs about cowboys and not so much about drinking.

Sometimes you can tell a lot about an artist by the covers he keeps. Williams offered John Anderson's "Seminole Wind" and an Alabama medley of "Roll On," "Mountain Music and "Dixieland Delight." In other words, Williams echoed Munsick's traditional country vibe, if not even more so.

He also looks and acts the real deal with his lanky stature, cowboy hat and creased blue jeans.

Curiously, he also had a segment of non-country when he left the stage to let his backing band rock out mainly with instrumental snippets of rock songs except for a few lines of Queen's "We Are the Champions" and a local favorite song, "I'm Shipping Up to Boston." Like Munsick's non-country songs, that changed the vibe until Williams fortunately returned to country.

This was a solid one-two punch of dyed-in-the-wool cowboy that felt genuine from the clothing to – more importantly – the songs. Williams and Munsick were the real deal.

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