HomeNewsInterviewsCD ReleasesCD ReviewsConcertsArtistsArchive

Ramsey looks back to give hope to the future

Brighton Music Hall, Boston, March 13, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Perhaps no bigger praise could have come for Mason Ramsey than when his guitarist, Paul Sgroi said something to the effect at the outset of the encore, "I've played with a lot of musicians in Nashville, and (Ramsey) knows his country music history."

Considering that Ramsey is only 17, that's speaks volumes. However, this is not some musical conversion for Ramsey.

Some things changed for Ramsey, and fortunately for country music fans, some things have not.

The cute little, 11-year-old kid who was discovered yodeling away on Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" at a Wal-mart in Harrisburg, Ill., near his hometown of Golconda, has grown up.

The now 17-year-old teen isn't such a little kid anymore, but his music has not changed all that much – and that's good.

In this day and age of disposable music, it would have been easy to eschew his roots. But he was not having any of that. After the show, he said, "I love Hank Williams."

And he proved that more than once in his fun, joyous sold-out show playing "Lovesick Blues" mid-way through and encoring with two more Hank classics – an excellent take on "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Hey, Good Lookin'."

For good measure, Ramsey threw in Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" three songs into the set. He dished out a few Elvis type moves as well including wearing a few scarves, shimmying and shaking and going to the floor more than once.

But lest one think that Ramsey is merely a covers act, far from it. He helped write four of the five songs on his most recent EP, "Fall Into Place," and started off the fast-paced show (the hour-long regular set flew by. Fast.) with "Next Right Thing" and the title track.

Ramsey thankfully is staying true to who he is. There may be better singers out there, but there is an authenticity to Ramsey as an artist. And that goes a long way.

Ramsey didn't incorporate the traditional country instruments of fiddle or pedal steel in his band, but his backing quartet knew their way around a country song. Sgroi utilized his electric and acoustic guitars to maintain the country vibe. In fact, this was the very first time playing with keyboardist Whitney Newcomb, who learned the songs in only two days!

Ramsey also seemed comfortable with a few blues-oriented tunes, including his most recent release, "Blue Over You."

During these times where rock seems a part of country, Ramsey was having little of that too with maybe only a song or two venturing into that territory.

At heart, Ramsey is secure in his traditional country skin. T underscore that, he closed the regular set not with "Famous," perhaps his best-known song played earlier in the set, but a medley of "Jesus and Me," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and a buoyant "I Saw the Light."

The youthful crowd – many were females under 21 – certainly embraced the light of Ramsey.

Not only did Ramsey look back to the musical giants he so clearly embraces, but Ramsey gives hope to the future of country music as well.

Halle Kearns opened with an enjoyable acoustic solo set. Like Ramsey, covers can tell the story. In Kearns' case, that was Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine" and The Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces." So, Kearns is on the mainstream side.

Not only does she have a good voice suited to her material, but she showed herself to be a storyteller with "Shoes to Fill," a paean to her father, and "High School Friends," about trying to make it while former friends have a seemingly enjoyable life.

One sign of Kearns' successful night – there was a lot of yapping for a good portion of the set. By the end, she had the crowd listening.

Mason Ramsey Setlist Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA, USA 2024

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
AboutCopyrightNewsletterOur sister publication Standard Time
Subscribe to Country Music News Country News   Subscribe to Country Music CD Reviews CD Reviews   Follow us on Twitter  Instagram  Facebook  YouTube