|Chris Stapleton – All Photos by
The Rock and Roll Princess
Last week, Chris Stapleton’s All American Road Show sold out the 21,000 capacity Pepsi Center arena. It’s been impressive to watch this star rise so quickly. In 2016, he sold out the 3,900 capacity Fillmore Auditorium. Last year, he sold out the 9,525 capacity Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Arenas are perfect places to watch t-shirt canons and mascots dunking basketballs (or whatever else happens during Denver Nuggets games). But live music is another story. The sound is usually muffled, the musicians are difficult to see, and nobody sits in their seats. I attended the echo chamber to see the old school country singer with the powerful voice and impressive guitar playing.
|Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton|
Shortly after Chris Stapleton took the stage, a voice in the crowd yelled, “I miss Morgane.” Stapleton replied, “Me too. She’s at home with the babies.” His wife and background vocalist gave birth to twins in the spring. With growing confidence, Stapleton didn’t need to lean on his bride to give an impressive performance. His voice was mighty and his interaction with the audience was charming. During his previous tours he didn’t look at anybody but his wife. This time he stared straight into the crowd. Every note Stapleton sang rang out to everyone from the fans near the stage close enough to smell his tangled beard to the unlucky bastards in the rafters.
|Country Fans inside the Pepsi Center|
The audience sang along to every song from the rocker opener Midnight Train to Memphis to the heartbreaking closer Sometimes I Cry. Dave Cobb played rhythm guitar and kept the band on the rails. He has produced Sturgill Simpson, Anderson East, Zac Brown, and Brandi Carlile to name only a few. Cobb also likes to play with his friend Chris Stapleton who he produces as well. When opener Marty Stewart joined Stapleton on stage for Now this is Country and Honky Tonkin’ Is What I Do Best, the crowd witnessed two generations of country music legends coming together. Stapleton wasn’t satisfied with just combining generations of country, he snuck in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird. The song fit in perfectly with Stapleton’s similar themed Traveller (without the bird noises). The band came back for the encore all dressed in Colorado Rockies shirts. Stapleton revealed the band had batting practice with the major league baseball team earlier in the day. That’s when Outlaw Country and Death Row were played with Stapleton’s impressive bluesy guitar tones. At the end of the night, the audience felt like they were walking out of a saloon instead of an arena.
Dressed in leather pants, a scarf, and hair straight out of 1987, Marty Stewart and his band the Fabulous Superlatives were the supporting act. The beginning of his set had each band members lead a song while Stewart accompanied them on the guitar and mandolin. Kenny Vaughn started their set off with a guitar surf music explosion. Bass player Chris Scruggs, grandson of Earl Scruggs, sang Bull by the Horns sounding and looking like a country version of Buddy Holly. Stewart got his biggest response by singing Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire (he played in Cash’s band before going solo). The set finished with Time Don’t Wait played in front of a video of the band on an Indian Reservation.(that’s because you can’t have cowboys without Indians.)
|Brent Cobb and his band|
Keeping it in the family, Brent Cobb, the cousin of Dave Cobb, opened the show. Not only does Cobb perform his own music, he has written songs for Luke Bryan and Little Big Town. His drummer won over the crowd by sporting a Willie’s Reserve t-shirt (Willie Nelson’s brand of marijuana is sold in the mile high city). Highlights were the cautionary tale of King of Alabama and the party anthem Mornin’s Gonna Come. The songs were played along with animation of country fans making lots of bad decisions. Cobb finished by telling the crowd he will be happy to have a drink with them in section 104 (it’s next to the merch booth).
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one back in a smaller venue dressed in leather pants and a scarf having a drink with Brent Cobb.