January 20th, 2020 the city of Des Moines, Iowa hosted two of what many consider to be on the upper level of the best Country and Western music being created in the music industry. Texas singer songwriter Vincent Neil Emerson, and Saskatchewan’s Colter Wall, one of Canada’s truly authentic singing cowboys, are blazing trails of “traditional” music with a modern flare that is honestly written for the sake of the story and not just to put a hit on the charts. The sold out, 700 person, venue is well aware of the buzz these gentleman garner and have packed the house to experience it in person.
VNE kicked of with a pre show meet and greet at the local record shop, Marvs records, where Luke Dickens has plenty of Vincents cd’s on hand for autographs and photos after the show. It was standing room only and a real treat to see VNE hop on the intimate stage and tell some stories in song form. Vincent plays a number of originals before closing with his own version of tour mate, Colter Walls, “13 Silver Dollars” and heading back over to Wooly’s to start the main show.
The line at Wooly’s is already 2 blocks long as fans huddle in groups to try and stave off the frigid temperatures. But despite the cold, the buzz and electricity in the line is definitely palpable and the energy builds as the doors open and we make our way inside. These lines and sold out shows are not a rare occurrence for this tour and I’m glad the Iowa contingency turned out in numbers to support both bands.
Vincent takes the stage and runs through a number of songs off the album including the albums title track, “Fried Chicken and evil Women” Among the set he also plays “7 come 11,” “Highway Shine,” and “Letters on the Marquee” which has a great opening line of “Well they ran out of letters on the Marquee, They can’t spell my name.” The show was well on the way to sold out before Vincent was added to the bill but, most of the audience was already a fan, and those that weren’t were converted as VNE played the final notes and finished his set.
Colter steps on stage in pitch black and and greets the packed house to shouts and applause as people almost immediately beginning shouting out song titles they hope he gets to. He smirks as he looks around the stage to be sure the guys are set before kicking off into the set list, which is constantly in flux on his tour and he calls out songs as they go. “Saskatchewan in 1881,” “Me and Big Dave,” Kate McCannon,” and “Happy Reunion” a song off of Colter’s recently released 7″, 45 vinyl, which also includes a fan favorite, “Bob Fudge.” “Thinking on a Woman” and “Sleeping on the Blacktop” are also preformed before Colter and the Scary Prairie Boys walk off stage before the encore, which is a new track making frequent appearances called “Western Swing and Waltzes”.
Both bands prove the reason why they have such a large following and why tickets sell out as quickly as shows are announced. They bring songs that are both amazing pieces of storytelling and expertly performed live by the musicians in both bands. If a show is heading your way, I would get your tickets early before they sell out and you miss your opportunity to experience these amazing songs.