Brace yourselves. It’s time, once again, for what has become an annual rite of spring. I’m not talking about the tournament or stocking up on Allegra. I mean the inevitable Rock Fore! Dough backlash.
For those unfamiliar, here’s the rub.
A few years ago, prompted by a few dips in the annual fundraiser’s attendance, organizers took a long hard look at how the event was booked and determined that audiences were responding more significantly to acts with twang rather than bang. As a result, with a couple of exceptions, the lineups have skewed considerably more country and crowds have consistently increased in both number and engagement.
But here’s a secret. This year’s lineup, which dropped last week, might in fact rock more than expected.
Let’s start with the event’s local opener. John Krueger is an Augusta artist who, for many years, has shown himself to be quite comfortable producing rock and power pop records. He has a new EP coming out and has been known to cull from the ranks of the local fave Edison Project for his supporting cast. Early word is his new material has more of an Americana vibe, but I suspect the rock will roll as well.
Patrick Davis returns to Augusta with his distinctive brand of American country/rock. While there are certainly some elements of country in his sound, it skews closer to the California country vibe hatched by The Eagles than the current country sound. A little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.
While Brothers Osbourne seem to have found a sweet spot on country radio, the band’s sound seems to owe as much to classic rock as expected Nashville influences. The band’s current hit Stay a Little Longer features some jangle that sounds pretty Byrds-like and is punctuated by a Telecaster crunch that clearly traces its roots back to Keith Richards while the band’s previous hit Rum hooks on some Allmans-style slide.
The event’s headliner, Darius Rucker, is something of a known quantity. He’s played this show on a regular basis since its inception and his blend of his country hits, Hootie & the Blowfish back catalogue and surprising covers – I love it when he rolls out the Prince – make for a set that is eclectic and true to his influences. It’s a very rock and roll country show.
But what about the unknown quantity? Rock Fore! Dough will feature one of Augusta-area native Charles Kelley’s first solo shows since he helped found the enormously successful country trio Lady Antebellum. Prior to his Lady A days, Kelley’s music felt distinctly soulful and his songs felt more akin to the work of Edwin McCain and Shawn Mullins. Lady A represented a new direction.
His recently released album The Driver is yet another. Emotional, a little raw and occasionally courageous – sections of the song Lonely Girl have a surprisingly cool ’60s ultra-lounge vibe – The Driver seems to be the work of a singer that has found success and wants the opportunity to explore his art. It is the Rock Fore! Dough set I’m most looking forward to. I’m pretty sure it will rock.