This review is split in two – no way I could put both of Friday’s shows into one column!
I wanted to make a special point to be here and see Scott Austin in an acoustic show. The last time I saw him (see review 8/13/11) it was in a much different venue, and with The Everyone’s Band backing him. That was where I first fell in love with his poetry of word and song.
In an acoustic show, Scott has one of those voices that sits like a perfect single-malt scotch – smooth and mellow at first, following with a warm afterglow. Velvet, silk, honey… none of those capture his voice, but somewhere in all of that is Scott. His guitar work is equally enchanting; a sweet backdrop to his picturesque lyrics. His songs speak to everyone equally, bearing witness to the common threads in our lives.
By request, he gave us a stellar performance of “Crazy Awesome” which the audience just devoured. Another one of my favorites, “Happy Now” was also very memorably portrayed. Both of these are available on Scott’s debut EP album, “Into The Light” which you can find online or at the merch table of his shows.
Select covers were mixed throughout his originals, each performed in a uniquely Scott Austin fashion. One of my favorite covers from last night was Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry” – done un-reggaed and what I call “Scott-ified.” Just loved it! He makes every one of his covers become one of his own creations, each an original work of art in his loving care.
On many of them, like “Let It Be,” it took a few moments for the audience to figure out why a song sounded familiar – and then you’d see the collective “ahh!” as recognition dawned on us. In a very real and personal way, it was a true collective experience. Rarely do I see an audience, especially one in a small tavern setting, become a communal creature, but this is exactly the effect Scott has. It is a unique talent and one we seem to have lost – I continue to be reminded of Seger, Springsteen, or even Dylan, when I watch Scott perform his magic.
He also makes a point of connecting with individuals throughout the club, grinning and cracking jokes between songs, nodding and smiling with eye-to-eye contact during a song. I’d be hard-pressed to recommend a more mellow and perfect end to a work week. Find Scott on FB, bandcamp, and ReverbNation so you can be sure to catch his next live show.
SPOTLIGHT – WestEnd Tavern, 563 West Centennial Boulevard, Springfield, OR
This little bar is tucked away in one of our ubiquitous strip malls – you might miss it at a casual glance. But it was obvious from the nearly full house that many folks consider it worth their time and trouble to be there. It seemed to be a friendly and warm establishment; upon walking through the doors for the first time last night we were greeted with a hearty “hi! how are you?” from the personable lady behind the bar. They have a nice selection of mouth-watering hot dishes and a full bar, with some nice Hop Valley on tap including the seasonal Bad Tempered Gnome, an excellent brew for those of us that love and appreciate a dark-natured ale.
For such a tiny place, the sound was absolutely lovely. It might have something to do with the unfinished wood walls, aided by its unique floorplan – not quite an L, almost a Z-shaped layout.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and, now that we know where to find it, will be looking forward to coming again to see live local music.