On a night that boasted one of the larger storms of the year, fans of folk-rock flocked to the Turf Club in St. Paul. Why? Because the club was hosting a show that genuinely made it worth standing up to some crazy weather.
Texas natives Israel Nash and Matthew McNeal have been traveling the Midwest with their bands to deliver us a power-packed tour. Both have released albums this year working with Grammy award-winning producer Ted Young at Nash’s studio Plum Creek Sound.
The lighter side of Nash’s retro-stylings is shown on his latest release; appropriately titled “Lifted”. While he draws major inspiration from the world around him in politics and society, this album is a breath of fresh air that isn’t dragged down by the weight of these topics.
The sounds of nature worked into the sonic arrangements give a peaceful vibe. I couldn’t wait to see how he pulls it off live after seeing him nearly there years ago in support of Silver Season.
Matthew McNeal was up first. He treated us to a set of music from his album Good Luck with drummer Andre Black. They played a thoughtful set that captured the attention of everyone who managed to get there early.
Those who caught the end of the set were treated to some collaboration as members of Nash’s band took the stage to fill out McNeal’s songs with some bass and slide guitar. It took everything up to the next level.
I got the feeling that many in the audience hadn’t heard his brand of alternative Americana rock, but many left with autographed LP’s in hand. I expect to see his name around more often!
Israel Nash finally took the stage with his band and started strong with Lifted opener “Rolling On”. Nash donned a brown leather western jacket and the most gorgeous white and gold Gretsch guitar I have ever seen. Seriously.
Nash kept the evening going with a set of old favorites like “LA Lately”, along with new favorites like “Northwest Stars (Out of Tacoma)”. Each song kept the dancing going and the Grain Belt flowing. He was so gracious to the audience for coming out to support his music and for sharing it with friends.
Nash has a way of turning his perfectly stellar recordings into full-on masterpieces on stage. Part of that is his tight and talented band who clearly love what they are doing. It shows through the glimmering guitar jams and the way that they interact on stage.
Each song intensified from the recorded versions. Whirring guitar solos and extended vocals turned fan favorite Mansions into a highlight of the night as they rounded out their set.
Not bothering to leave the stage for their encore, Nash brought Matthew McNeal back up to collaborate on a blistering cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s song “Ohio”. The song was originally recorded in 1970 as a response to the Kent State shootings and felt eerily relevant today. He reminded the audience to “stay woke”.
To see Nash onstage is to see someone who may have been born at the wrong time. He belongs with the ranks of Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Lucky for us, we get him on the stage at the Turf instead of the stage at Woodstock
Northwest Stars (Out of Tacoma)
Who in Time