He played roughly eight original songs, all sticking to the “good clean boy” vein, to which he seems to be partial. His writing was decent enough. His delivery, however, was his strongest selling point.
Fenton’s voice flowed through the house speakers with just the right amount of boyish pining, accurately portrayed through lyrics of love, loss and redemption. His demeanor was charming and his in-between song banter was clever. After his set was up, he remained onstage to do another full set with Abigail Blythe and Friends.
The ukulele Blythe carried was small and un-imposing. The voice that accompanied that little instrument — the voice of Abigail Blythe herself — was enormous, to say the least. Fenton and the other singers each added harmonies to Blythe’s quirky songs, and they did so in the most complimentary fashion possible, at times even breaking into massive-sounding four-part harmonies that completely encapsulated the room.
Blythe took moments between songs to give way to a somewhat awkward (though endearingly so) form of banter, which completely lent itself to her awe-inspiring performance in the end.
After Blythe and her band finished their set, the headliner for the night, Carolina Story, took to the stage.
Ben and Emily Roberts, or Carolina Story as they are more formally known, are a husband-and-wife folk/country duo based in Nashville. Upon taking the stage, they immediately took control of the crowd and made no effort to hide any friendly husband-wife rivalry from the audience.
Despite a few initial sound glitches — which the duo handled with the utmost grace — the set was phenomenal. Emily’s commanding vocal tone fought with, fell in love with and cradled Ben’s southern croon, and the results were astounding. The back and forth vocal melodies between the couple were speckled with occasional full-on harmony arrangements, during which it was evident they were attuned to one another.
Carolina Story’s between-song banter was hilarious. At one point Ben introduced a song by saying, “This is the song I play for Emily when I know I’ve messed up, and you can always tell how we’re doing by how early in the set I play this one,” to which Emily replied with a concerned, “Uh-oh.”
When their set of original songs was complete, Carolina Story said goodnight to the audience, but they were soon brought back to the stage for an encore. They closed out the evening for good with a raucous cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” then proceeded to go about the room shaking hands and spending time talking to fans.
The next time you hear about any of these artists performing, it’s worth your time (and gas, in some cases) to go take a listen.