By Hannah Compton
Photo’s of Venue from http://www.theslaughteredlambpub.com/index.html#gallery
Brent Cobb is a name that every Country music and Americana fan needs to know. At the moment, Brent is one of the hardest working and sought after artists in the industry and has a long list of songwriting credits for some of Country music’s finest musicians such as Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Little Big Town, to name but a few. His current album Shine On Rainy Day is one of the best albums I have heard in a long time and will no doubt remain one of my favourites for years to come.
It was almost as if it had been a misprint when I read that Brent Cobb was coming to the UK to play in venues with a capacity of just 150. Brent’s current album was not only critically acclaimed across many publications but was also named one of Rolling Stones’ top Country albums of 2016. We, the UK (or those of us lucky enough to actually get to see him), were going to be in for a treat seeing an artist with such an array of talent in such an intimate setting.
Brent’s first UK show was held in London’s The Slaughtered Lamb -a venue I had never been to, or even heard of. I was intrigued and excited that the show was to be held in the downstairs of this popular, yet small pub in Clerkenwell.
Arriving early in preparation for an interview, I sat in the upstairs section eagerly waiting to chat with such an amazing artist. But that is another story, for another feature which will include the interview, which will appear separately.
The downstairs music venue was set with small tables and comfy stools, each had a candle centre piece, setting the mood for a very chilled, intimate and very special evening. The stage itself was incredibly small and would hold no more than two, maybe three people. The Slaughtered Lamb is most certainly a hidden gem in comparison to most venues where we see Country artists.
Her confident and quirky sense of humour had the audience in the palm of her hand and she had everyone laughing – not with jokes but just by being herself and saying funny things throughout her set. Her music and her voice were not just good but dang good.
Her vocals were flawless and filled the room with such a sound that captivated you instantly and made you want to hear more. She was more than just a support act, as I enjoyed her as if I had paid to see her and her alone – and I would. She is certainly someone I will look into seeing in the future. Her songs were well written and well performed with just her and her guitar – and the sound guy was so on point that her vocals projected across the room and possibly beyond.
One song that stuck in my mind was a ‘cheating’ song, which she introduced with hilarity and a purposefully fake American accent. The lyric, ‘She’s cheaper than a dollar store version of me’ had everyone laughing every time she sung it.
Next up was the man himself. Brent and band member Mike Harris, with whom I had been chatting upstairs earlier that evening, took to the stage with almost no detection from the crowd, which you would think would be impossible considering he would have had to go through the crowd to get to the stage. But then, that is just the British way, we are almost too respectful to say anything when an artist is about to perform.
Once on the stage and setting up with what looked like a set list on Brent’s phone, the crowd cheered gleefully. Brent explained how happy he was to be here but also nervous as had no idea what to expect. Saying next that he was going to start the show by telling us a little bit about where he came from, Brent went straight into the song South Of Atlanta and right away the audience fell silent. I had explained to Brent during our interview how respectful the UK audiences are and that was proven when every person stood or sat and quietly absorbed each and every word and note sung and played. After the song, Brent explained how strange it was to be in the UK singing about his hometown and how glad he was that his music meant something to us. He was also extremely grateful that his first shows in the UK had sold out and could not thank us enough.
Brent sings so clearly and slowly and told us that when Jade tried to do an impression of a Southern accent, she’d worried that she’d insulted him, as he actually speaks like that. However, he said he’d been ridiculed his whole life for speaking so slowly and could no longer be offended! His sedate way of speaking and singing is part of his charm, though. It’s what makes his music and live shows such a joy to listen to and part of what makes him so unusual as an artist. His spoken word alone is so interesting and inspirational that I could have listened to this man speak and sing all night and only wish the entire evening had been filmed, so that I could watch and hear it over and over again.
Brent told a story before nearly every song and worried he would bore us. Quite the opposite; his stories were so interesting and like stories out of movies and I loved hearing them.
Before he began singing Solving Problems, which is the first track off the album, he explained that he and his friend were sitting around doing nothing and didn’t know what to write about, so they wrote a song about doing nothing. He then told us after the song that the line, ‘Solving all the problems of the world’ is the only lie in the song – but he wished it could be true.
It was when he was talking about his song Down In The Gulley, I laughed the most. The song was inspired by his Uncle Bubba Cobb, who was accused of running a Moonshine still and how the local sheriff came knocking very early in the morning. Bubba Cobb, not being a morning person was not too pleased about being woken at such an hour and chased him off his property with his gun demanding he get off his land. Brent said ’I thought, what a great song it would be if it HAD been a moonshine still.’
It amazes me how creative artists can be and how a songwriter can be inspired anytime, anywhere. The story of Down In The Gulley is one I am going to always remember and share.
Another comedic part of the show was when Brent introduced his song The World. He explained that a friend said to him he would never trust a songwriter who couldn’t write a love song, so he wrote The World about his wife. ‘Uh-oh’ a voice in the audience hollered. Brent laughed and asked, ‘Who said that?’ and addressed the lady in question, who we later learned was Angaleena Presley, a fantastic Solo artist but best known as one third of The Pistol Annies – and interestingly known as ‘Holler’ Annie. Brent turned to her saying, ‘I love my wife, she is a wonderful Lady, sorry’.
Brent sang every song off Shine On Rainy Day as well as the astounding Down Home from the compilation album Southern Family, produced by his cousin Dave Cobb. He also sang Miranda Lambert’s Old Sh!t which Brent co – wrote with Cadillac Three’s Neil Mason. The funny part of the songwriting process to this song is, as Brent told us, how he went into this co-write, not knowing Neil and saying to him that he has this line ‘Splittin’ logs, smokin’ hogs, Feedin’ leftovers to a three legged dog’ and that he worried he would be seen as odd – but hey! It’s how it is back home and what actually happens. I really enjoyed this version, a lot but I am also a huge Miranda fan and it’s hard to say who did it best, so I won’t.
The entire set was flawless, authentic and mind blowing, playing some of the best live music that I have ever heard. Seeing an artist such as Brent Cobb in a dark, small, yet cosy set up, stripped back and acoustic with just his guitar and one additional guitar player is something we are unlikely to experience again. Brent truly connected with his audience and made us all feel like family. His guitarist Mike Harris played his instrument effortlessly and wowed the crowd with his slide guitar playing. After the show, they both mixed with the audience, stopping to speak to anyone who approached them.
We 150 people within the audience were some of the luckiest fans of Country music in that moment. The memory of that evening will stay in our minds for years to come.
Brent informed us he would be back in May. Asking him after if it would be with friends Whiskey Myers, he replied, ‘Now that would be one hell of a wild show’.
Shine On Rainy Day has its UK release March 24th via Atlantic Records
Shine on Rainy Day by Brent Cobb