Saturday I was browsing through the live music offerings and found Haley Cole and Erick Willis were playing the Live Oak. The page didn’t say what sort of music these two play (neither did their websites), and it didn’t say who was going on first.
A call to the venue didn’t clarify things, so I decided just head down there and find out what this was all about.
The Live Oak is a great sounding concert hall. The place has had kind of an identity crisis since it first opened, but it is really starting to gel. And we had a good crowd in the hall.
Turns out this was a singer-songwriter song swap kind of thing. With Willis going first, and then Cole. Genre-wise we had straight up singer/songwriter folk with a hint of rock or country thrown in here and there.
Willis has a clear, powerful voice that reminds at times of Josh Weathers. I doubt Josh has ever sit still for so long, but the mood for this thing was a laid-back exhibition of the songwriter’s craft.
Willis plays guitar and sings with emotion and power, and exhibits some serious songwriting skill.
Having looked both of these performers up on YouTube, Cole was the one I was looking forward to seeing the most. She did not disappoint. The lady has an undeniable charm on stage. Her guitar work was tasteful and percussive, and she possesses a soulful, emphatic voice.
The truth is, as with any good song swap, that you find yourself wishing for another song from the last musician that played — but then you get hooked by the other one. They played for just over two hours, and when they ended the show the crowd was having none of it — demanding an encore.
They each did one more song each, with Cole closing out the show with a soulful, heartfelt rendition of the C. Austin Miles classic hymn In the Garden — done a cappella.
The crowd made a futile attempt at singing along on the parts they remembered before the lights came up. Each of these artists perform separately with a full band, but getting to hear them perform solo, in a great sounding room has merit is a whole different kind of show.
I’m anxious to see what they can do with a full backing band.
Haley Cole and Erick Willis
The Live Oak, 1311 Lipscomb, Fort Worth