Just another Friday night at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, CA? Not quite…
Last night, a capacity crowd was entertained with 3+ hours of music from a mix of up and coming acts and an established superstar. While I was excited to see James Otto for a 2nd time (I’ve previously seen him as the opening act for Toby Keith and Trace Adkins), I was looking very much forward to seeing the openers for this particular show…The Jane Dear Girls and The Dirt Drifters.
As the 9 o’clock hour struck, and following another great session of line dancing lessons from Adam the Dancing Cowboy (seriously, if you need to learn how to line dance in the South Bay Area, you need to check this guy out), KRTY’s Randy Jones, celebrating his birthday, hit the stage to introduce The Dirt Drifters. I discovered this band online a couple of months ago and had high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.
The band consists of lead singer/guitarist Matt Fleener, vocalist/guitarist Ryan Fleener, vocalist/guitarist Jeff Middleton, bassist Jeremy Little and drummer Nick Diamond. These five artists, signed to the Warner Bros. label, started the night off right with a mix of country, rock and even some R&B that got the crowd moving.
With songs such as “Something Better”, “Call in Sick”, “As Soon as I Get You Alone” and “Married Men in Motel Rooms”, I think I’m safe in saying that these guys have a huge future ahead of them in the country music business. The passion that they have for their music comes out in their live performance and I don’t see them as an opening act for much longer. If you get the opportunity, please be sure to call, email or Tweet your local country station and tell them to put The Dirt Drifters on the radio. You won’t be disappointed. The only disappointment I had from last night’s show, other then I don’t believe they played “Guys Like Me”, was when they’re set was complete.
After a short intermission, we were treated to the music of Susie Brown and Danelle Leverett, otherwise known as The Jane Dear Girls. When they started out, the girls were each pursuing solo country music careers when a friend suggested that Danelle watch Susie perform at a local, Nashville club. Before too long, the two made an attempt at writing together and from the moment they finished their first song together, they knew that they were a duo.
To be fair, it’s very difficult to give an honest opinion of the duo because they unfortunately had some technical difficulties throughout their performance, both with their microphones and instruments. This wasn’t ANY fault of theirs but it was obvious during the set that it was affecting their performance.
Through these issues, Brown and Leverett remained as professional as possible and worked through a great mix of ballads and crowd pleasing, party songs. Opening with their latest single, “Shotgun Girl”, The Jane Dear Girls set the pace for their performance and had the crowd singing and dancing along. The duo also played songs that are sure to be future hits including “Merry Go Round” and the slowed down, melodic “Saturdays and Septembers.” They told the crowd that “you won’t hear many sappy love songs”, but “Saturdays and Septembers” is definitely a song that shows the range that the duo has and is a song that I know we’ll be hearing on country radio in the near future (and trust me, you need to hear Susie on the fiddle…wow!)
Closing with “Wildflower”, their biggest hit to date, The Jane Dear Girls brought the decibel level to its loudest point of the night (so far) as both women and men alike sang along to the tune that landed the act an ACM nomination for best vocal duo. While they have some tough competition with the likes of The Band Perry, after seeing their live performance, I can say that they are, without a doubt, a duo that is ready to take the country by storm (much like the Dixie Chicks did back in the late 90′s).
At the conclusion of their set, it was obvious that Danelle was still visibly upset over the issues that plagued the group from their opening number. Although the microphone problems seemed to be resolved by the end, there were still some problems with her instrument. After signing a quick autograph for a fan, she took off, off the stage and didn’t look back. Hopefully this experience won’t keep the group from coming back to San Jose again soon.
Following one final intermission, it was time for the headlining act of the evening, Mr. James Otto. Seeing Otto walk out on stage, you can’t help but notice his large stature and stage presence as he seems to fill the room with his larger than life personality. From the first song of the evening “These Are the Good Ole Days”, Otto set the pace of a night that would be filled of nearly every genre music you could imagine.
Otto treated the crowd to all of his hits including “Groovy Little Love Summer Song”, “Lover Man” and his number one single “Just Got Started Loving You”. But what may have been the highlight of the evening was the stirring rendition of his latest single “Soliders and Jesus”. Prior to the song, Otto brought a woman up from the crowd who was a Gold Star Mother. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a Gold Star Mother is a woman who has lost a son or daughter in service of our country. This mother recently lost a son in Iraq and it was an emotional few moments as they embraced and Otto kept her onstage as he played the ballad. In looking around the crowd, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, yours truly included.
Another great night at the Rodeo Club with three acts who didn’t disappoint. I was thoroughly impressed by The Dirt Drifters and also look forward to hearing more from The Jane Dear Girls. I hope that despite some of the technical issues experienced during the show, that each of these acts will consider a return trip to the South Bay.
Did you go to the show? What did you think? Have you seen any of these acts in-person before? Would you see again? All comments are welcome!
Thanks again to KRTY for bringing the show to San Jose.