A month or so ago the name Kacey Musgraves started to pop up, a lot, on Twitter amongst the country music community. So much in fact that after reading this great review of her album Same Trailer Different Park there was only thing left for me to do – jump aboard the bandwagon and order the album myself, which I did.
On the very first listen I knew I’d come across something pretty special, and as Same Trailer Different Park ran on almost constant loop for the next week, it became clear that Kacey Musgraves was someone I was going to hear a lot about in the coming years. Kacey combines her deliciously smooth vocals with some great storytelling, bringing both sentiment and a great outlook on life. It’s one of those albums that if someone had asked me at any time in the last 4 weeks what 10 albums I’d take with me onto a desert island, Same Trailer Different Park would have been one them. That’s high praise indeed for a singer has only been on my radar for a month.
Just last Monday Kacey did her first UK headline gig in London but I was unable to attend, much to my disappointment. However, anguish very quickly turned to delight as it was announced she would perform a 30 minute acoustic set at Slipped Discs’ Brown Sugar – a record store in Billericay, Essex. Whilst not being familiar to most, Billericay is actually where I lived for the first 9 months of my life, but have not been back to for 38 years. Well that was about to change, as I made plans with my wife and son to drive down to my birth town and see this amazing new singer who I’d been listening to almost constantly for the past few weeks. At 4 years old this was to be my son Lucas’ first ever gig, and he even went as far as drawing a picture to give to Kacey, should he get the chance.
A fair crowd had gathered by the time Kacey walked through us and onto the stage, her band along with her. I was fortunate enough to be second row as people craned to watch from the front of the shop all the way to the back and into the coffee shop area. The first taste we got of Kacey’s musicianship was during the sound check, for which she apologised for the time it was taking. I actually found the whole process very interesting and when it’s the actual singer and her band performing the sound check rather than just some technicians, well it’s like a mini practice gig in itself.
Sound check done we actually had a warm up act come on first, a young lady called Georgia who got told whilst on stage she’s be singing 2 songs and not 1 as was previously planned. To her credit she took it all in her stride as she sung a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy followed by her own song Blue, which she will be releasing interdependently. She did very well and has a lovely voice, and probably wasn’t expecting to play in front of so many people!
The time was 4.20pm, the date was 4/20 (for Kacey it was being that she’s American) and she was playing in a store on High Street. This is how Kacey opened her gig, much to the amusement of those of us who got what she was saying anyway. What then followed was not the half hour that had been promised but way past that and approaching an hour of sublime acoustic music. You often hear people say that a singer sings effortlessly, probably to the point of overuse, but that is something you can genuinely say about Kacey. On stage she looks like there is nowhere else she would rather be and to be singing and playing for us is a gift that she cherishes and takes full advantage of.
She started off with Blowin’ Smoke, which couldn’t have been more perfect given her 4:20 references from just a few minutes earlier, and followed this up with tracks from her album, a great song about trailer parks and the hit song she wrote for Miranda Lambert; Mama’s Broken Heart. The only time she didn’t look utterly at ease is when she got a request for On The Map from the crowd. This wasn’t a planned part of her set and she wrestled with whether or not she should do it, because she hadn’t played it for some time and her band hadn’t played it at all. Being the free spirit that she is she thought to hell with it and gave it a go, and though a few of the lyrics did go awry, it’s so nice to see someone being totally them self on stage and mot being thrown off kilter by an unplanned addition to her set.
The highlight for me came towards the end when Kacey sung Follow Your Arrow, a song I’d requested she sing over Twitter for the 2 days leading up to this gig. Do I credit myself for this being included? Yes, but given that it’s one of her most popular songs I think that credit would be well and truly unwarranted. She actually revealed Follow Your Arrow was a late addition to the album, but she loved it so much she had to include it, and thank those heavenly stars she did.
The gig ended with her first recent single Merry Go ‘Round, which saw practically everyone in attendance singing along. What a brilliant way to bring to an end a stellar performance from of one Nashville’s rising stars.
Her band deserve credit too, and they were Misa Arriaga and Adam Ollendorff, who along with Kacey herself gave us some wonderful stringed music to go along with those great vocals. Kacey seemed genuinely delighted to see so many people come out to this record shop in a small town in Essex, but the pleasure was all ours. After the gig she stayed to sign CDs and pose for photos. When it was our turn Lucas gave her the picture he’d drawn, explaining it was of his house and a select few Star Wars characters. She signed his poster “Happy 1st Concert” and then posed for a photo with him, also taking a photo with her own phone too. Could Lucas be her youngest fan? After having a photo taken myself I bought her album, again, on vinyl, as it had been made available especially for record store day.
A great gig which came with another piece of good news at the end – she’s coming back to tour in the UK in October. I’m certain that almost everyone who saw her play on Saturday will be buying tickets to those shows, as I saw fans of all ages buying CDs and queuing up to get them signed. I feel privileged to have seen her both perform and to meet her – it surly won’t be long until she’s packing out arenas all over the world, the success coming her way is utterly deserved.