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Posted by glenhooks in Show Reviews.


Midnight Tuesday has come and gone, and I’m in a dim ‘n’ rowdy Fayetteville basement brimming with broken guitar strings, a whirling barefoot tambourinist, and a sweetly sweating wave of countrified bo-ho coeds.  We are the latest lucky victims to come under the spell of Silverton, an eight-piece folk-rock act that is helping redefine what it means to be a country music act in Arkansas.

Seeing Silverton live is an exercise in involuntarily shedding one’s cool pose.  Comfortable in the corner nursing a beer?  Put it down and move to the front.  Are you the laconic head-bobbing scenester, smirking at those who dare to dance?  Prepare to give yourself up to the ecstasy. 

The sheer size of Silverton is a logistical challenge for most venues.  Tonight, even minus the presence of vocalist Haley Mattox, Silverton’s seven remaining members arrange their equipment with the precision of a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast.  While drummer Josh Spillyards,  tambourinist Thom Asewicz, and bassist Ryan Hitt occupy the tiny step-up stage,  lead vocalist/guitarist Phillip Huddleston, vocalist Jessica Hendricks, Jesse Bates (guitar, pedal steel) and keyboardist Whitman Bransford take up spots on the floor at eye-level with and a nose’s worth of distance from the
crowd.    It’s a necessary move logistically, but it also instantly connects Band With Fan and ratchets the energy up immediately.

Bam!  Silverton opens up with a rollicking take on “Highway Rough” that sends Asewicz into instant percussive overdrive.  Silverton is a band that owes a heavy debt to the country ghosts of days gone by, and soon segues into a shuffling, sing-along version of “I Get By” that signals a night of tunes very different than those generally provided by a band of twenty-somethings.   Some like to speak of “old souls,” and that wouldn’t be misplaced when it comes to describing Silverton.  If I close my
eyes, I can sense this music being played in the roadhouses of my father’s younger years, or my grandfather’s.

The energy of Silverton is the type that can overcome obstacles that would cripple a lesser band.  Broken strings by Huddleston and Bates pose little problem, and  the buzz is enough to overcompensate for the utter lack of a PA system.  Tonight is not about technical superiority or acoustics.  Tonight is about howling dogs, shimmyshaking, and erasing boundaries.   By show’s end, the magical line between musician and audience has evaporated entirely—Hendricks is in the crowd dancing  with one-and-all, Asewicz is everywhere at once, and the twirling coeds from the audience have magically infiltrated the band space, snaking and slinking between the pedal steel and the keyboards.  For a few moments, lines are obliterated and what was billed as a concert becomes an experience. 

Catch the Silverton train whenever you get a chance.  Their next gig is at Riverfest on Friday May 23rd, opening for 607 and Arrested Development.






1. John Keller - May 13, 2008

I saw Bruce Sprinsteen and the E Street Band in Dallas. Freeking awesome, Love the Boss!

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