Just when you think a country music artist can’t get any better, they come back to town and leave you speechless. This is the only way that I can describe the latest performance from recording artist James Wesley’s this past week at The District, a fantastic new venue located in Gilroy, California, which featured Michael Beck of the Michael Beck Band as the opening act.
Michael Beck and James Wesley (Credit: Patti Galiano)
If you don’t know Wesley already, then let me quickly educate you for a moment. With hits such as “Real”, “Didn’t I”, “Jackson Hole” and “Thank a Farmer”, Wesley has been getting airplay for quite some time now across the country. Special thanks go out to a number of California stations such as 95.3 KRTY, KAT Country 103 and 101.9 The Wolf who continue to keep Wesley on their playlists.
But let’s be real for a second. To this day, he’s still not getting enough airplay (in my opinion) and I can’t stress enough that if you see him in concert one time, you’ll be hooked. Wait. Did I just say hooked? More on that later…
Before I go too far, and jump into my review of this show, I can’t forget the rest of the band including Michael Blakemore, Jesse LaFave and Matt Morgeson because they’re pretty damn good at what they do too. But you get my point!
Anyway, on to the show itself.
First, a little backstory. This show was originally scheduled to take place at a venue that won’t be mentioned, but on two days notice, had to be moved to another location, the aforementioned The District. While this change of plans didn’t make things easy for fans wanting to catch Wesley live, an enthusiastic crowd still made the trek to show their support. Those who came were treated to a night of fun and GREAT music!
Hanging with James Wesley Post-Show (Credit: Patti Galiano)
Michael Beck took the stage first as the opening act. Beck is a local guy from the Bay Area (who by the way graduated from George Fox University just 10 minutes down the road from me here in Oregon). I know that California grown country artists don’t always get the attention they deserve, but this is an artist that Nashville needs to take notice of.
Man. What a voice and stage presence that screams “Forget your drink…pay attention to me”. Most young artists can come off as unpolished or even unentertaining. Beck is nothing of the sort. He makes the audience want to get up out of their seats and sing along with every song. His setlist included songs from his CD “Countin’ on Tennessee” as well as an assortment of cover songs from the likes of Jon Pardi (Head Over Boots) and David Lee Murphy (Dust on the Bottle).
From the EP, songs such as “Tennessee”, “Paradice” and “The Reason (I Love the Rain)” were a few of my favorites. But the one song that stood out to me, and I know is a personal favorite of Beck’s, is “Little Piece of Heaven”. To me, nothing is better than a song that is written from the heart, about someone you love. In this case, Beck’s 18 month old daughter. If you’re looking for a song that’s destined to be a hit, this is it.
Check out Beck’s cover of “Head Over Boots” here.
Want to learn more about this up-and-coming artist, visit his website, where you can also pick up the CD. Also check out the entire Michael Beck Band on Facebook for more information on news and upcoming shows.
Around 9:30 p.m., it was time for the main event of the evening: James Wesley.
So how do I describe James Wesley as an artist? Simple. He is a traditionalist, which is something that is rare in country music these days.
Most importantly, he’s also VERY passionate about his music and his fans. He writes, or co-writes most of his own songs and both he, and the band, play their heart out each and every time they take the stage. Plus, Wesley is one of those guys on Twitter (@jameswesley1) who loves to engage with his fans. Make sure to give him a follow and check him out on Facebook.
Credit: Patti Galiano
How would I describe a James Wesley show? How about high energy. Absolutely entertaining. Just like me, it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll! I could go on and on with descriptors but I don’t want to bore you with my ranting.
Besides the staple set list songs that I mentioned earlier (Jackson Hole, Real, Didn’t I) we were also treated once again with a selection of “new” songs that haven’t made it on the radio yet.
Heck, maybe we can find them on an album in the near future?
I’ve said this before, but just to reiterate, there are a few songs that I expect to be hits in the near future, including: “The You I Wanna Know”, “Running” (co-written with Marcum Stewart and Zac Wrixon) and “See You on the Radio” are just a few songs that continue to stick out for me as having the potential to be radio hits. The later, was the closing song on the set for this show and it certainly has the legs to make a solid run on country radio.
Check out a live clip of “Real” here.
Check out a live clip of “Running” here.
But let’s not forget about the beauty of the cover song. One thing that Wesley and the band like to do is mix their own music with the sounds of Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and George Jones. Some “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”. A little “White Lightning”. Fantastic stuff.
Credit: Patti Galiano
I mentioned earlier that if you see Wesley in concert one time you’ll be hooked. Well, now you can officially get “Hooked Up” with Wesley’s newest single by the same name.
Back in April of last year, officials from Big Rock Sports, LLC announced that Calcutta®, a proprietary brand of Big Rock Sports, partnered with Wesley to produce the single and music video “Hooked Up”. The music video was shot last year during a concert that Wesley performed at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament weigh station on the Morehead City, North Carolina waterfront. In case you’re wondering, he and the band will be back at the tournament on June 17. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it!
Anyways, the song, which tells the story of anglers chasing blue marlin—through the eyes of the marlin—at the Big Rock, was released through iTunes, CalcuttaFishing.com, and Thebigrock.com so you will definitely want to check this out. Wesley and the band played it live for the first time at this show last year and it was great to hear it again on the set list this year. I am going out on a ledge and say that this will be a radio hit in the very near future. Do you hear that country radio? It’s time to get this song on the air!
Check out a live clip of “Hooked Up” here.
Credit: Patti Galiano
So as always, I’ve talked your ear off. But let me say this once again: there are only a few artists that I give a five star recommendation to. James Wesley is one of them. If there is one artist that you see in concert in the next year, make sure that it’s Wesley.
From he and the band’s stage presence, to the love of the music to the time he and the band spend with their fans, it is not just a concert. It really is an experience that music lovers of all ages, and across genres, will enjoy. Trust me, you won’t regret spending $10, $15, $20 or more to see these guys live!
Have you seen Wesley and the band in concert? What did you think? Please leave your comments and thoughts in the comments below! I would love to hear about your similar experiences!