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ISSUE 118 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/15/2004

Band 'drives' modest crowd

By Rachel Westberg
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 15, 2004

Current country music hit-makers Emerson Drive entertained a small, 200-person crowd in the Pause Wednesday, Oct. 6, for the SAC-sponsored Homecoming concert.

With their high-energy show and incredible musical talent, Emerson Drive showed why country music still has strong appeal -- even in the North.

After a long wait due to technical difficulties during sound check, the audience was treated to the opening act of Jedd Hughes, a newcomer to the country scene from Australia.

His musical ability was laudable, but the crowd seemed indifferent to his performance, perhaps because they were unfamiliar with Hughes' material. By the end of his set, however, he seemed to be gathering an increasing fan base within the modest audience.

Hughes sang songs from his current CD High Lonesome, including the current single and most crowd-pleasing tune, Soldier for the Lonely. Title track High Lonesome and Luxury Liner were two other high-energy tunes, both of which showcased Hughes' guitar savvy.

Following Hughes' performance, Hughes signed autographs and conversed with a few of his new fans.

When Canada-based Emerson Drive finally reached the stage, the Pause seemed ready for a rousing performance. The band opened with the upbeat My Kind of Rain.

Right away, the audience expressed their enthusiasm for the group's pop-country style, especially when they sang their harmonious cover of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Fishing in the Dark and their own energetic hits I Should Be Sleeping Only God both from their debut and self-titled album.

The group also played their latest single November, which is currently number 42 on the Hot Country Radio and Record Charts.

One of the highlights of the concert, however, was the instrumental interlude that came halfway through Emerson Drive's performance.

During this portion of the show, lead singer Brad Mates rested his streamlined and intensely emotional vocals so the other members of the band could show off their incredible talents.

Mates did so with good reason: keyboardist Dale Wallace reigns as the current Canadian Country Musician of the Year.

The interlude also included solos from bassist Patrick Bourque, fiddle player David Pichette, guitarist Danick Dupelle and drummer Mike Melancon.

Other crowd pleasers included Fall Into Me and Baby Are You Thinking; the crowd sang the choruses of both songs while the band watched contentedly.

Finally, the group closed with the ever-popular Charlie Daniels Band hit The Devil Went Down To Georgia, which showcased the flair and talent of David Pichette.

Of course, Emerson Drive could not leave without an encore -- especially after the entire crowd began chanting One more song!

Again, Emerson Drive did not disappoint, singing two more songs for their encore, including covers of Rod Stewart's Forever Young and the Beatles' Yesterday. Afterwards, Emerson Drive treated those who lingered after the show to autographs and pictures.

Playing a combination of classical country hits infused with contemporary panache, and a slew of their own chart-toppers, Emerson Drive provided a night of pure energy and great music.

Their various influences were well combined to create a unique sound that can be appreciated across all genres of music. Emerson Drive proved why their good looks are not the only reason they are receiving attention in the national arena of country music.

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