Photos and Words: DJ
The Orion Amphitheater, in its early stages and only in its second year of operation, has already hosted some incredible performances. Not only is the architecture of the venue distinctive and visually appealing, but the facilities, staff, security, and atmosphere have been exceptional since our coverage began. We have been fortunate to witness numerous outstanding acts over the past two years and hope that many have had the opportunity to experience the venue’s many wonders firsthand. If you haven’t, be sure to catch a show next year as its reputation continues to soar in the region, solidifying its position as one of the premier music venues in the country.
With that said, this was our final show of the year, and it was once again an honor to cover some outstanding Americana, Country, and Southern Rock performances. Following recent appearances by Brandi Carlisle and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, the stage was graced by The Turnpike Troubadours, Southern Rock powerhouse Blackberry Smoke, and Red Dirt Country outfit Jason Boland & The Stragglers.
While I was initially unfamiliar with Jason Boland & The Stragglers, some research revealed that he has influenced frontman Evan Felker, among others, of The Turnpike Troubadours. Notably, famed producer Shooter Jennings has worked with both The Troubadours and Jason Boland & The Stragglers on their recent albums. Boland and his band exude a distinctly Red Dirt vibe, and their lively performance served as a delightful warm-up for Blackberry Smoke.
The Georgia rockers wasted no time, launching into their set with a powerful wall of sound. Frontman Charlie Starr’s masterful fretwork, along with the band’s impeccable cohesion, impressed on this brisk evening. Their new single “Little Bit Crazy” showcased a timeless blend of Southern Rock that Blackberry Smoke has mastered, delivering a live experience that captured the essence of their sound. Their setlist, featuring favorites like “Sleeping Dogs” and “One Horse Town,” was a testament to their electrifying live performances.
As The Turnpike Troubadours took the stage, they seamlessly maintained the energetic atmosphere. Lead singer and guitarist Evan Felker has encountered personal struggles on his journey, with the band also navigating its own challenges leading up to the release of their latest album, “A Cat In The Rain,” produced by Shooter Jennings. Despite not catering to all tastes, their heartfelt lyrics and fusion of country, folk, and Americana created an intriguing musical blend. The night culminated with the crowd showing their appreciation for yet another evening of exceptional musicianship at the Orion Amphitheater.
Looking back, the past two years have been an incredible journey covering shows at the venue, and we eagerly anticipate what the future has in store. Here’s to a promising 2024.