Guest post by Kim Prior
I have written several articles for Fangasm about the Saturday Night Special, so when I sat down to write this one, I went back to read those articles in an effort to avoid repeating myself. I mean, how many different ways can I explain my complete and total love for Louden Swain and this concert? I have already said that this concert is Extraordinary. I’ve already said that this concert is Special because of Louden Swain. I’ve already said this is a raw, unfiltered show of energy and passion and love pouring into us through guitars and drums and lyrics. I have already said that Louden Swain gives us their very souls, from Billy Moran and Michael Borja on guitar, to Stephen Norton on drums, to Rob playing guitar and singing with a rawness of heart that is frankly unlike any other performer out there. How can I possibly explain this to you in new words? What else can I say? Should I just word-vomit all the synonyms for love? Is there even one single word that could ever explain how absolutely incredible these concerts are?
Fangasm. That’s the word. These concerts and this band bring me to the height of complete and total fangasm. If you haven’t experienced a fangasm, then for the love of Chuck, go to one of these concerts, and allow the music and the lyrics and the energy and the passion to wash over you and into you until you are completely and totally immersed in everything that is good in this world. Amen.
Louden Swain opened the show with “Present Time,” and followed that with “This Is How.”
Our beloved photographer, Chris Schmelke, joined the band for “Juliet.” This is perhaps when I am most nervous, me taking pictures of him, I gotta get it right, ya know?
Mark Pellegrino came on stage next. He said he was nervous, and he recommended a few Family Beer Business beers to take the edge off. He dedicated his song to his wife, Tracy, and then he began to sing “How Sweet It Is (to be loved by you).” Omg, this was the most precious thing! I didn’t take a lot of pictures during his song because I was too busy watching her as she listened to his endearing serenade. How sweet it is indeed.
Before beginning the next song, “Big One,” Rob explained a little bit about writing it. He ended by saying, “If you can love, if you can feel, then you’ll be ok, we’ll be ok, because love wins over fear.” Amen, Rob, amen.
Ruth Connell then took the stage for “Number One Crush.” After reading her chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood about how singing onstage has been a lifelong struggle, I’m just so proud of her and how she she conquers her fears every time she takes the stage. And kills it!
Following Ruth’s performance, Louden Swain sang “Worlds Collide,” a song which Rob dedicated to his old friends who were backstage watching the show.
Adam Fergus came on stage to introduce Kim Rhodes. She was wearing a little black dress, and I was quite mesmerized by her gorgeous legs! Let me tell ya, I wanna wear a little black dress like that someday. #lifegoals Kim sang “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” like a rockstar.
Richard Speight Jr. joined the stage next to play bass for Louden Swain’s song “Leg Up” which also featured Mike Borja on keyboards. (I love that Bass-playing Richard Speight Jr. doesn’t speak…except through his bass playing…)
A little side story, if I may… stay with me, I promise it will make sense.
My parents are diehard fans of Elvis, so I grew up on his music. And, yes, I still listen to his music; in fact, I have several of his songs on my playlists. To be completely honest, sometimes I need to hear “If I Can Dream” to remind myself that a better day is coming, and I can either choose to wait for it to happen or I can choose to make it happen.
It was my mom’s love of Elvis that helped her understand my love for these conventions. I asked her, “So what if you’d had the chance to get a photo with him, or his autograph, when you went to his concert?” She let out a true fangirl gasp, the very thought of that made her heart skip a beat. She blushed and glowed and stammered out an “oh my, that would have been wonderful.” I looked at her and smiled. And in that moment, she understood. She got it.
So with all of that said, the only version of “Proud Mary” I’d ever known was Elvis’ version. At some point in high school I heard the Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) version… meh, it was okay, I guess; I still preferred the King’s version. I remember discovering Tina Turner’s version when I was in college… I remember thinking that it was such a shame that anyone else even tried to sing that song, because she nailllllllllled it. Like, seriously, all you singer people out there, just don’t. Just don’t even try to be Tina. Just. No. #Queen
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Lisa Berry. A little bit quiet, a little bit timid, a little bit nervous as she walked onto the stage that Saturday night. Maybe she thought to herself, “Proud Mary? What am I thinkin?” Listen here, Lisa Berry, don’t be nervous and do NOT doubt yourself, like at all. Ever. Lisa came out on that stage and she didn’t just sing “Proud Mary,” she sang and she smiled and she danced and she put forth so much energy that you could literally feel it in your bones. She nailllllllllled it. I mean, Elvis who? Tina who? No no no, “Proud Mary” was always meant for Lisa freakin Berry. Let me tell ya, there’s a new #Queen now and where can I buy her cd because I neeeeeeeed it.
After Lisa’s performance, Rob said, “The band had a meeting to decide who would follow that! Who wants to follow that?” I am 100% confident the band did talk about it, but it was the way Rob said, it was the fact that he even said it at all… my heart broke a little. Rob, honey, listen, I can think of a gazillion songs that you and the band could’ve played to follow Lisa’s performance. Because you’re Louden Swain. Because I’m here for You. Yes, Lisa was amazing, but So. Are. You.
Anyway, Rob said there was only one person he could think of to follow Lisa. And that was Jensen Ackles. I’m not complaining. I don’t disagree with it. But really, any Louden Swain song would’ve been perfectly okay too.
Jensen first sang “Wrecking Ball,” a country song, which was perfect for a stage in Nashville. And by the way, Jensen singing country music was a gift I did not know I needed. I don’t necessarily like country music, but I’d buy that album, just sayin’.
Later, I read the lyrics to that song, and um, yeah, That. #fangasm #notevensorry
And by the way, we’ve all said it so many times before, ‘looking at Jensen is like looking at the sun.’ Listen, it is absolutely not any easier when he looks directly into my lens while he’s singing. I mean, I’m trying to focus, ya know? Can you not? Okay, yes please, look at me again. And again. And again.
Next, Jensen sang “Whipping Post,” and he rocked the house! He’s cocky and confident and so damn sexy when he sings, and oh be still my heart because I feel like I’m dyin.
If following Lisa’s performance was difficult, then how do you follow that? No worries, Rob knew exactly what to do next. Jason Manns joined Rob onstage to sing their emotional, powerful, just take-my-heart-and-rip-it-out version of “Hallelujah.” Seriously guys, my heart cannot take this. I am dead in my seat.
Next, we had The Station Breaks song, “The Slightest Thing.” And holy pitch! Jason’s amazing note at the end, held in perfect pitch for over 20 seconds… yeah, that, more of that, please.
Ok, the next performance has become one of my favorite parts of the concert. Richard Speight Jr. singing Copperhead Road. There has been a lot of talk about how much Jensen has grown and come into his own on the stage. But have you watched Richard as he sings this song? He absolutely owns the stage!
And I love when Rich and Rob come together to jam and sing into the mic at the end of the song. Richard doing his thing, Rob with a little sparkle in his eye, showing how proud he is of Richard. #truefriendship
As if I wasn’t already emotionally spent, the band next played “She Waits,” a heartbreaking ballad that brings tears to my eyes every single time. The sea of lights that sway in support of Rob is breathtaking and heartbreaking and uniting, all at the same time. Rob bleeds his heart out in this song, and we take his heart and wrap it up in a gentle but supportive hug and reassure him that he’s gonna be okay, we’ve got him. And in so many ways, we know that we’re gonna be okay too.
Rob and the band followed that emotional heartbreak with “Mama’s Jam,” joined by Kim, Lisa and Ruth who helped bring the audience back to full-tilt, full-hype, full-rockin status as they danced their way around the ballroom, hopping up on chairs ala Matt Cohen to cheerlead.
Next, the band sang one of my personal favorites, “Amazing.” The opening notes are so raw, so acute, I’m just pulled into it immediately. The words, “take me to your leader, give me a taste of your amazing grace” – the words, all of the words, really speak to me. And the way the guitar builds and explodes… the words taking over my own breath, seeping into my bones… you better believe I Am the Captain of My Story.
The night ended with everyone returning to the stage to join Rob and the band for “Let Love Rule.” And it was beautiful and precious and damnit why is it over? I don’t want it to be over.
I guess I found some new words after all….
Stay tuned for more NashCon reports!
just a mom with a camera.
6 thoughts on “Nashville’s Saturday Night Special!”
Your photos are breathtaking! Thank you for sharing!
I always love your pictures, especially of Jensen. He puts so much of his heart and soul into his singing and you are able to capture that so well. “Like a Wrecking Ball” by Eric Church was a great song for him to sing, but if you really want to hear something amazing, we need to hear Jensen sing “Colder Weather” by The Zac Brown Band again. Jensen sang it a few years ago in his jam session with Steve Carlson at a previous Nashville Con, and I don’t know if there was a dry eye in the room, it gave everyone goosebumps. Thanks for this write-up and for your photos!
This article is the best one i have ever read in my life. I really want to go to one of those concerts now! Kim Prior, you are great!
Kim, your words are just as breathtaking as your photos. The SNS came alive for me, someone who wasn’t there but felt like she was. Beautiful words. Beautiful photography. Beautiful person. Thanks for sharing.
“just a mom with a camera” Never! Your words & pics are so full of love & feeling it’s like I’m there with you! Awesome & beautiful xxxx