This is going to be one of those reviews that I won’t be able to capture and convey just how good it was.
I just wanted to get that out of the way up front.
John Paul White brought his Inaugural Acoustic Tour to Oklahoma City’s Blue Door this past Saturday night for the tour opener. What we experienced was an evening of expertly crafted songs being “road-tested” upon a extremely willing and appreciative audience. The evening really summed up the relationship that Blue Door owner Greg Johnson cultivates between artist, the song, and the listener. At times, you could have heard a pin drop. At other times, White was seemingly taken aback by the warmth and appreciation shown to him by an adoring audience. Combine all this, and it truly was a special evening, one that bordered on magical.
As mentioned, White has hit the road for a short acoustic tour in order to primarily “road-test” some newer material, as well as sprinkle in a few well-placed favorites. Based on the songs that were debuted this evening, the follow-up to Beulah is poised to be as special, if not more so.
Taking the Blue Door stage to a hearty welcome, White quickly warmed up the crowd and his voice with a stunning a capella rendition of “I Remember You”, originally performed by Slim Whitman. It was a perfect song to set the tone of the evening. Any initial nervousness White may have had with this first show seemed to have been quickly put to rest. He playfully bantered with the Blue Door audience, and displayed an increasingly pervasive charm and witty humor as the night progressed. Introducing “Black Leaf,” White leaned upon the lyrics indicating that, based on the crowds appreciation so far, perhaps he shouldn’t wait 7 years for his “second time around” next time. Keeping with songs from Beulah,”White next performed a haunting “Once and Future Queen.” Next, White launched into the purpose of the tour, his newly debuted songs. Informing the crowd that this was his first solo acoustic tour ever, he wryly indicated “it’s all downhill from here.” Although nothing could have been further from the truth. Over the course of the next 50 minutes or so, White debuted a collection of songs that were impressive beyond my comprehension. Songs such as “Wish I Could Write You a Song,” and “My Dreams Have All Come True” displayed a songwriter’s greatest tool, an ability to cover personal topics, while allowing the listener to buy in to the lead role through artistic artisanship. Quite conveniently, “My Dreams Have All Come True” has just been made available here: http://smarturl.it/johnpaulwhite
A personal highlight for me was the song “James”. Introduced by White as a song he wrote about Glen Campbell and his struggle with Alzheimer’s. He also humorously told us that title of the song was named after his Dad, who he stressed is just fine, with no health issues, though he may not have been so happy about his name as the title. The song itself captures the heartbreak of the disease poignantly. To be sure, following the song White joked that before playing the song he should send out a memo to “start crying now.”
Next, was as important a moment as any for me. White introduced another new song, “This Isn’t going To End Well” White told us that the song was co-written by country song writing legend Bobby Braddock. Best known for his incredible run of hits, such as “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, and D-I-V-O-R-C-E, you no longer really see any of Braddock’s songs being used. Describing the experience of writing with Braddock and of what it meant to him brought me incredible appreciation for White. He indicated Braddock is virtually ignored now by modern Nashville, saying, “That’s Nashville in a nutshell.”
The rest of the evening was a splendid mix of new and older material, including a beautiful “All That Glitters Isn’t Gold,” You Lost Me,” and “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” and closing the night with “This Life.” Following this special performance, White spent the next hour meeting folks, signing autographs and posing for photos. In addition to being an incredibly gifted songwriter, White also seems to be one of the definite “good guys” on the scene. The combination of the two is definitely something rare. I simply cannot recommend catching one of these dates enough. In a year in which I’ve seen a number of memorable shows already, this one really stuck me as something special. John Paul White information and tour dates can be found here: http://www.johnpaulwhite.com/
Opening the night’s music was Kierston White, who joked that she’s no relation to John Paul White as far as she knows. Though, she is the sister of country artist Bryan White. It’s obvious that the talent runs strong in their family, as Kierston delivered an impressive, albeit short set. Kierston also performs in a group known collectively as The Tequila Songbirds. But this night was a solo effort, focusing on songs from her new album, “Don’t Write Love Songs”. Kierston was a perfect choice to warm up the sold out audience, and has me eager to catch her headlining a night at the Blue Door next month. Check out Kieeirston White’s webpage for music, info and tour dates here: https://www.kierstonwhite.com/#!