Charles Wesley Godwin — Southbound Bar and Grill
A synchronized shout erupted from the corner of the bar as Charles Wesley Godwin and his band broke from a ritualistic pre-show huddle. They took the stage, greeted by cheers from the sold-out crowd. A sold-out show at Southbound Bar and Grill in Springfield, Missouri looks a little different than most venues. The bar has a large, open room with tables sprawled about. Makeshift tabletops are added to the pool tables for additional seating. The crowd, a mix of seated and standing patrons, had been waiting patiently for Charles Wesley Godwin and the Allegheny High to take the stage. Appalachian music is a familiar sound in the Ozarks. Sometimes referred to as “The Little Appalachias,” Ozarks history is rich with those migrating from the Appalachian Mountains and settling in the familiar river bottoms and steep hollers in the region. Perhaps that’s part of why we love Charles Wesley Godwin so much. He’s a comfortable voice and incredible storyteller we all relate to here.
The familiar intro to “Hardwood Floors” filled the room and a sudden rush of energy swept over the crowd. Hands clapped, boots stomped, and dancers spun in the few empty spaces left. He continued to play fan favorites (though, which of Godwin’s songs aren’t fan favorites?) such as “Lyin’ Low” and “Temporary Town” to which the crowd repeated every word back to him. When the intro riff to “Jamie” was played – a song on Zach Bryan’s Summertime Blues EP that has Americana fans in a stranglehold and features Godwin on the album – the crowd erupted, singing back so loudly it was almost hard to hear the band.
After a few more songs, the band was dismissed, and Godwin took on a two-song acoustic set. He passionately bellowed “Seneca Creek,” his voice seemingly coming from everywhere at once, flowing through the bar room as if we were all hearing the echo from deep within an Appalachian holler. I’m not convinced that his voice needs any additional reverb added to it. He transitioned to “Cranes of Potter” and brought his lead guitarist, Al Torrence, back out to accompany him. The rest of Allegheny High re-joined them on stage and the remainder of the night was nonstop, loud fun. Somehow seven members played on that small stage and not even one over-played the entire night. Every song was clearly well rehearsed with precise, searing solos and perfectly timed breaks. When Godwin got to “Over Yonder” his eyes closed tight, seemingly picturing a landscape of West Virginia and a hard life that accompanied it. He sings these songs every night, but the passionate that he performs them with makes it seem like they just poured out of his pen. The crowd sang along with “Jesse” and “Strong” before Godwin closed his set. Chants of “one more song” predictably came forth and shortly after, he came back out for a two-song encore, both covers. The first was “Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and then he brought his talented opener, Justin Wells, out to harmonize on a classic sing-along that hearkened back once again to West Virginia with “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
The beauty of Charles Wesley Godwin’s songs is that they tell a story reminiscent of reading an entire novel in roughly three minutes. When he performs, he puts himself in the shoes of each character, whether real or fictionalized, and lives them in his head as he sings us what he sees. The crowd picks up on the energy and feeds off it, living the songs right alongside him.
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Key to the Highway: Charles Wesley Godwin
Find more information about Charles Wesley Godwin, tour dates and more, here: http://www.charleswgodwin.com
Find more about Justin Wells here: https://justinwellsmusic.com