Written by Sean Payne – Tulsa, Oklahoma, October 25th, 2018– On a Thursday night in Tulsa, Ok you can be fortunate enough to go to any local dive and find quality music across the city. In fact, you can find one of the best music scenes going on in the Midwest. In the shadows of the bright neon light from the historic Cain’s Ballroom and the foggy Tulsa skyline, lies a small music venue called The Vanguard. Rolling through town on this night was Ward Davis and his mind-blowing band of talent that he brought with him. Joining Davis on the bill, was his friend Clint Park from Nashville and featured a local musician, Casper McWade to round out the best ticket in town.
The music playing on the sound system lowered as Clint Park walked out of the green room and onto the stage. He grabbed his acoustic guitar from the stand and spoke into the microphone about the late, great, Louisiana singer/songwriter, Tony Joe White who passed away the day before. The first song of the set was none other than an unrehearsed and improvised version of Polk Salad Annie in tribute to White. Park went on to play a mix of tunes from his previous self-titled EP, Clint Park and songs that he said may be included on his upcoming project. A song from the previous EP, Why Can’t It Be Raining, was the second song on the setlist and set the tone for Park’s heart tugging, dark songwriting that endures him to his loyal following of country music lovers. Park then went on to play a tune that he cowrote with his dad, Johnny Park (Atlantic recording duo Archer Park), Even Texas Ain’t Big Enough and That Ol’ Blacktop Runs Both Ways. Both tunes are rightfully slated to be on Parks upcoming EP, one that should be on any fans radar that loves traditional country music. If you have not heard of Clint Park, then I strongly suggest that you go pull up a seat on that wagon and give him a serious listen.
The lights again dimmed as a tall figure emerged from the back of the stage and headed for the guitar case to the side. The musician picked up his instrument of choice and began to quietly tune his acoustic guitar. A few seconds went by and the sound clicked on and the distinctive picking for the intro to The House of the Rising Sun could be heard loud and proud throughout the venue. He then approached his vintage mic and belted out that famous first line of the tune. It was like a moment in time had froze and everyone became silent and all ears were immediately attentive to the commanding voice of Casper McWade. After a smashing rendition of the absolute best cover of the Rising Sun, McWade went on to awe the audience with short stories and original tunes that are slated to be on his upcoming album, Hello Lonesome, due out in late November. His skillset was on full display on the big stage. The powerful and commanding vocals along with solid songwriting skills prime Casper for the opportunity to be a household name in the genre of Honky Tonk and Outlaw Country Music. McWade has that “it” factor and stage presence of other notable artists in the business such as Whitey Morgan, Cody Jinks and the headliner on this night, Ward Davis.
The anticipation and energy in the small concert room could be felt in the air as the band began to emerge onto the stage. With his signature hat and leather jacket, Ward Davis picked up his electric guitar and they kicked off the energized ninety-minute, eighteen song set with, Get to Work Whiskey. Along with new tunes from the upcoming album, Davis played many of the old crowd favorites. Unfair Weather Friend, 15 Years in a 10 Year Town and I’m Not the Devil received a rousing welcome from the audience with both applause and shots for members of the band. Clint Park also sat in on the set and provided acoustic and vocals on an absolutely outstanding rendition of Waylon’s, Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way. Once Ward sat down behind his keyboard, the mood in the room shifted as well as the setlist. The band started to improvise as Ward became a maestro of a well-oiled orchestra, calling out songs to play for the audience. Davis and his band continued to put out song after song until they were sure that the crowd was satisfied with the show. After the conclusion of what would be the final tune, Davis stood up and took a bow to the audience and disappeared into the darkness. No encore was played. No encore was needed. Ward Davis once again proved to everyone why he is one of the best singer/songwriters in the business today.
Click HERE to see the full image gallery from the show! (Courtesy Melissa Payne Photography)
Check out tour dates, merchandise and additional information for artists from this show at the following locations.
Photography and Images of the show provided by Melissa Payne