Judas Priest and Deep Purple at Stir Cove

Written by Cydney Phelps • September 2018


We closed out the season on Friday night at Stir Cove. And it went out with a bang! It was certainly a chilly evening and we snuggled up and settled in for what turned out to be quite the spectacle. We kicked off the show with a band from the UK, The Temperance Movement. These guys were really a great way to warm us up for what was to come. High energy, easy to listen to and lead singer Phil Campbell has got moves that may just challenge Jagger’s. They formed in 2011 and released their first album in 2012. They’ve come a long way in a short period of time to be touring with legends like Judas Priest and Deep Purple. With their style and drive, they might have what it takes to follow right in their footsteps.

And then the Priest arrived. I gotta say, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a louder show at Stir. We like to park ourselves closer to stage right. I love the view and the sound over there. But I was absolutely not prepared for my ears to be ringing halfway through the show. Not that I’m complaining, of course! Judas Priest has not lost any sense of who they are. From the set of the stage to Rob Halford’s 7 different and equally amazing jackets. I mean, what’s a heavy metal show without the wardrobe changes, right? Halford’s operatic voice sounds as if the man hasn’t aged since their formation in 1969. And the many, many, many guitar solos kicked ass. The current musicians may not be all original members, but they absolutely do them justice. In the end, they made a vow that the Priest will return. If I were you, I wouldn’t miss it!

Just as we felt that we’d been to a full concert, here comes Deep Purple. Known as one of the pioneers of heavy metal, Deep Purple got their start in 1968. In 1972, they were even deemed one of the globe’s loudest bands by the Guiness Book of World Records. It’s no joke when I tell you that my ears are still ringing. This is a band that has seen success despite the revolving door of band members. The only original member still touring is drummer Ian Paice. No matter the members, the sound is still there. Those unmistakable tunes of the keyboard still ring true with touring member David Airey tickling. I love seeing those closeups on the screen behind the band, it’s mesmerizing. Singer Ian Gillan, much like Priest, has pipes that would keep you in disbelief that the man is 73 years old. It’s incredible to see these living legends still pushing on and rocking hard at their advanced stage of life.

The crowd was of course filled with your expected middle aged metal heads. Speckled with some of us younger kids who appreciate what was put forth and who laid the path for the future generations of heavy metal. All of whom, by the way could not help but play air guitar at some point during the show. It really was a great way to end Stir Cove’s 15th season. I’m already anxious for next year’s lineup! Thank you for another amazing year, Stir, staff, and security. See you in the Spring! Cheers!


Counting Crows at Stir Cove

Written by Karen Freeman • September 2018

The Counting Crows adorned the stage at Stir Cove on Thursday night, and it was an interesting mix of nostalgia and those magical hits.  Duritz spent much of his time during the first 45 minutes of the show explaining his roots, and the roots of their melodies.  It was very introspective and soulful expression of how and why tunes like “Round Here” came to exist.  I found it to be quite touching, while others around me found just another excuse to chat or visit the bar.  Too bad for them, they missed some very intriguing commentary.  Duritz shared a bit of his life history, the hardships and the good times, the loves he has had and lost, and the adventures that have brought him and the band to where they are today.   When the balance of the 90-minute show was rife with hits and amazing band work, the full amphitheater sang loudly and proudly and gave the Crows the accolades they deserved. 

For twenty-five years Adam Duritz and the Counting Crows have traveled the world to share their library of rock and alternative rock.  Let’s hope they can continue for another twenty-five years. 


Opening for The Counting Crows on Thursday was Live, the rock band from York, PA.  Ed Kowalczyk and entourage put on a strong set of hard rock sounds and grunge like vocals.  It was pretty lively (no pun intended) and entertaining.  The concert-goers seemed to appreciate the volume and the commotion that comes along with Live, and it was a great way to open up the evening.  Kowalczyk has only been back in the lead for a couple of years, but it is as if nothing ever changed.


Pentatonix at Stir Cove

Written by Karen Freeman • September 2018

How do they DO that?  Tuesday night at Stir Cove, I witnessed one of the most enjoyable shows  - or you could call it a cabaret – when the Pentatonix (PTX) came to entertain the masses.  They totally rocked my world and if you ever have the chance to attend one of their performances, I strongly encourage you to do so.

This a cappella group from Arlington, TX were the winners of the third season of The Sing-Off, and they have been rocking our world ever since.  The night was full of original music, cover songs, rap mashes and some of the most beautiful harmonies and beats an audience will ever hear.  They are pitch perfect and multi-talented.  Much of the presentation included full stage choreography, and their energy and passion was palpable.  I could have sworn there was a full band behind them, but alas, it was just the incredible talents of Kevin Olusola and Matt Sallee.  Wow! 

There were so many poignant moments in their 2-hour show, but one of my favorites was their rendition of the John Lennon smash, “Imagine”.  It brought tears to my eyes and goose bumps to my flesh.  It was phenomenal.  Each one of the talented five sang a verse, and whether it was a bass or soprano sound, it was beautiful.

PTX has a large personality, and they seem to thoroughly enjoy every moment on the stage, and interact with their audience with sincerity and gratitude.  The attendees ran the gamut of ages, which was fantastic.  Their finale was an extraordinary version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and they nailed it.  What a show, and what a way to end it.  The full house left sated and smiling.  It was exactly as it was meant to be.





Lee Brice at Stir Cove

Written by Cydney Phelps • September 2018

We could not have asked for a more beautiful night at Stir Cove on Thursday night. The weather was perfect, the ground wasn’t (too) muddy, and the beer lines weren’t (that) long! It was a perfect way to settle in for good old country music.

First up on the docket was Tyler Farr, a fairly newcomer to the scene. Farr had a comedic presence on stage and was just entertaining to watch. You wouldn’t think his band, one dawning a Soundgarden shirt and one with a Mohawk and long beard, would be your typical country band. But boy, could you tell they enjoyed what they did. Each one had talents that were able to shine individually in every song. I’m not a huge country fan, but I can dig a country song with a killer guitar solo. Farr was having a blast interacting with the crowd, taking cell phones from those up front. At one point he even came down off the stage and started running through the cove. He took a breather in a fan’s empty lawn chair as he continued to cover The Outfield’s “Your Love.” They certainly woke the audience up with that stunt and ended their set with a helluva drum solo. What a great way kick off the night!

Lee Brice was our headliner for the evening. Brice made his debut in the country crew in 2007 as he began writing songs for Jason Aldean, Keith Gattis, and Cowboy Crush. He even had the honor of co-writing the song “More than a Memory” performed by the legend himself, Garth Brooks. His debut album dropped in 2009 and he’s been charting hits ever since. He’s a man who comes out swinging once he hits that stage. It was non-stop energy and enthusiasm. I’ve mentioned this before about country shows, but I’ll say it again; these artists are so appreciative of their fans. Not a song goes by without them thanking the audience for their support. It is, after all, the fans who have made their careers possible and each one of them could not be more grateful.

The season is winding down as we are in our last month of shows at Stir Cove. It’s been a great one so far with a handful remaining. I’ll be anxious to see what they bring in next year! Thanks, as always to Stir Cove, staff, and security for another great night! Cheers!


O.A.R. with Matt Nathanson at Stir Cove

Written by Karen Freeman • September 2018

There is nothing quite as exciting as an amphitheater filled with avid fans, and performances filled with energy.  Thus was the scene at Stir Cove on Friday night, when Matt Nathanson and O.A.R. took the stage.

Nathanson hails from Lexington, Massachusetts and is a prolific singer-songwriter of the indie rock genre.  He shared with the audience that his heart is in heavy metal, but his paycheck comes from his ability to deliver folk, pop and alternative sounds instead.  He loves to interact with the fans, and did so with nearly every song, telling tales of the origin of the lyrics, and asking the crowd to join in on choruses.  Nathanson played a variety of guitars, including a 12-string, acoustic and electric version.  His talents were remarkable.  The set was full of fun, chatter and beautiful music.   When he broke into “Shattered” the entire field sang along and it was a beautiful, nearly spiritual moment. 

When O.A.R. took the platform, their energy emanated the Cove from the first chord to their very last note.  Quite the opposite of the loquacious Mr. Nathanson, O.A.R. played a number of tunes before lead singer Marc Roberge took a break to acknowledge the crowd.  Mind you, not one person was complaining.  The Rockville, MD band started their set with “Black Rock” and it was consistently uphill from there.  Band members were dancing to the sounds along with nearly everyone in the bowl.  It was so refreshing to see almost the entire fan-base on their feet rather than lounging in their chairs.  The music was just too good and the rhythms were just too hard to resist.  The night was enchanting.

Concert-goers were predominantly millennial couples, and it was definitely a date-night destination.  Can’t think of a better location to take your main squeeze than Stir Cove.  There are several shows left, and you can check that out at www.stircove.com

See you there!


Gov't Mule at SumTur Amphitheater

Written by Karen Freeman • August 2018

I owe a lot to my friend, Milo.  About 15 years ago when I was just becoming familiar with the sounds of jam bands, he brought me a CD by this band called Gov’t Mule.  He said, “I think you’ll like them.”  Milo, my dear friend…that was the understatement of a lifetime.  Gov’t Mule has kept me enamored ever since I played those first tunes, and my appreciation and wonder grows exponentially with every new release and every live show.  I have seen them numerous times, but no show is the same and alas, that is the beauty of the jam band. 

Wednesday evening, Mule graced the platform at SumTur Amphitheater and it was yet another amazing performance by Warren Haines, Matt Abts, Danny Louis and Jorgen Carlsson.  It was a bit of a different show – a tad slower, a tad deeper – yet still fantastic by all accounts.  The two-hour concert had some great ‘jazzy-like’ jams, and included a killer cover of a couple of Police tunes.  Warren and the troupe kept the crowd moving with “Broke Down on the Brazos”, “Funny Little Tragedy” and my personal favorite “Child of the Earth”.  (When you get a chance, check out the lyrics to Child.  I think you will find them as poignant as I do.)  There were old renditions, new renditions and a gorgeous light show.  The night was all that I anticipated.

To say that Warren Haines has “talent” is much too understated.  He is creative, soulful and can tug at those guitar strings (and my heart) like no other.   He is #23 on Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Guitarists of All Time, and very deservedly so.  His performances with the Allman Brothers are legendary.  However – I may be just a tad bit biased, thanks to Milo.

Opening for Mule was another outstanding rock band – Magpie Salute, which just formed in 2016.  The band is comprised of four former members of the Black Crowes, including guitarist Rich Robinson.  They, too, are just amazing.  Their debut album released on August 10, and should definitely be on your playlist.  Their show makes gives you the feeling that you are all part of a big jam-fest and everyone is having the best time.  Pure fun.

The crowd that embraces the jam band genre runs the gamut of ages.  How tremendous it is to share your love for this music with people from all walks of life, where everyone is pleasant and happy.  You can dance your shoes off, or swing your hips with a lighted hula-hoop, and the atmosphere is just a superb experience.  The SumTur Amphitheater is a great venue, and I encourage you to take in a show there.   It is clean and comfortable and the lawn is a great place to lay that blanket down and party with the music lovers around you.