Hometown Throwdown: Shallow Side ft . Downsouth, Jesse Priest, Dark Before Dawn and Wayland.
Beloved, Cullman County locals, Shallow Side, returned home (Saturday, September 23rd) for a good ol’ fashioned, high-spirited throwdown at the Cullman Civic Center. Shallow Side didn’t come alone, they brought other local bands along with label mates, Wayland, to join the celebration.
Downsouth, a six-piece out of Warrior, Alabama, kicked off the night. Downsouth shows diverse talent and promise with a mix of well interpreted covers and original pieces. This is what we call ’round these parts, dirty southern rock. These southern boys know how to hit you with hard rock, flip it to some outlaw country, then take it to a blues inspired finish. I was equally impressed with their cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as I was their original “Outlaw Man.” Saturday night put Downsouth on my radar as a band to watch.
Jesse Priest took to the stage solo, a showcase of man and guitar. You probably won’t find Holly Pond, Alabama on all the maps, but it has produced one fine talent. Badfoot Records, an independent label with offices in both Nashville and Portland have taken Jesse under their wing. The set consisted of originals and covers that kept the crowd engaged. Covers like “Last Dance with Mary Jane” carried Jesse’s own inflections. Forget Indiana, she grew up right in Alabama that night. Soulful renditions of “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Simple Man” perfectly rounded out his originals. The original pieces showed genuine lyrics about how a woman can get you buzzin’ and how those sunny days in life can sometimes go straight to hell.
Dark Before Dawn, another Cullman County based rock band, came out to support their hard hitting EP, Chapter 2. This was my second time catching the act this year with newly appointed frontman, Justin York. Dark Before Dawn doesn’t fail to entertain, York emotes with such conviction while remaining in complete control of his vocals. Shawn “The Godfather” Burgess gives life to the stage, #BassPlayersArePeopleToo ,and proves they don’t have to fade into the background. Wicked singles like “Wide Eyed Suicide”, “In the Moment“, and “Framed Minds” are sure to keep you coming back to shows with their blend of dirty south hard rock. You certainly won’t want to miss their energetic and gritty cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” either.
Special guests and Shallow Side label mates, Wayland brought their own unique style to the evening. Wayland possess all the benchmarks of classic rock that can appeal to all ages with songs like “Come Back” and “Ghost.” You can follow the link to read Shockwave Magazine’s review of their debut album, Rinse and Repeat, which launched Friday, September 22nd. Their single “Through the Fire” has already reached #3 on the rock billboard. Frontman, Mitch Arnold showed off his impressive control with his range throughout the set and even with a couple surprise accapella places. I simply can’t fail to mention how when he wasn’t playing guitar he was throwing it down on the tambourine. This ain’t your mama’s tambourine folks. Drummer, Nigel Dupree, kept his riser rocking and the band propelled the entire time. Record label, Thermal Entertainment has helped create quite a dynamic show between the often paired bands. Catch Wayland as they continue to tour.
Shallow Side took the stage to a roaring crowd, that included friends, family and mentors. The night was filled with their anthems such as “Start a Fire” and “Can you Hear me.” And, who out there in the crowd could resist a killer mash-up that included everything from 8 Mile’s “Lose Yourself” AC/DC classic “You Shook me all Night Long”, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and even the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Shallow Side’s frontman, Eric Boatright knows how to get the masses amped up only to pull them back in for an emotional moment. Bassist, Justin “Rocket” Smith, took the stage with a guitar and a message for his mother. Despite undergoing a taxing health battle, she drove four hours to see her son perform. Boatright joined Rocket for vocals to a cover of “Watch Over You,” a song that is special to both mother and son. Shortly after, former bassist, Cody Hampton, joined the group onstage to a well received crowd. Hampton departed what is lovingly referred to as the “traveling circus” on good terms this summer. Continue to watch Shallow Side as they keep themselves on the road promoting their album, One. This is radio ready, stage ready, energetic and bold rock.
Boatright said it best that night; rock and roll is alive, rock and roll is well and we are home in Cullman, Alabama. He gave an impassioned speech on the costs and strains of success and traveling. The stand out message being, people will tell you that you will not and can not succeed because it goes against what they think you should be doing. Nothing can stop your dreams, whatever they may be, but yourself. I could not imagine a more fitting way to end that moment than with their song “Rebel.” The sweetest moment of all however, was at the very close of the Hometown Throwdown. A gender revel was set up for Boatright and his girlfriend who are expecting their first child. Confetti and all, its a…GIRL. Congratulations from all at Shockwave.