One of my favorite parts about living in Southern California is the easy access to LA. There are few things I love more than going to music shows at various small venues in and around Los Angeles. There’s something so special about the vibe, ticket prices are much more affordable and the venues are all quirky and cool.
The concert I went to this past Sunday was particularly special because it transported me to Tree Hill, North Carolina for a few hours.
Tree Hill is a fictional small town created by the Mr. Mark Schwann, the showrunner of the long-running television drama One Tree Hill. As most true-blue fans of the show will tell you, the show changed my life. My senior year of high school, watching an episode before bed became a nightly routine. By the time I got to season 2 or so, I cried at least every other episode. So when the opportunity came to see two of the show’s stars in concert–Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley James Scott) and Wakey!Wakey! aka Michael Grubbs (Grubbs)–I jumped at the chance.
For those of you who have seen One Tree Hill, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the concert felt like a night at Tric. Many of you probably remember Grubbs from Season 7– the lovable bartender with a magical talent for predicting (almost!) everyone’s drink orders and making beautiful music. You’ll be happy to know his singing and piano playing are even more amazing in real life. There’s something remarkable when you listen to live music that makes you sad about having to listen to the studio version for the rest of your life. Michael’s in-between song commentary was so funny, proving his real-life persona to be just as sweet and endearing as his character (which Mark wrote for him while they listened to Wakey!Wakey!’s debut album “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said Last Time I Saw You…”). He played songs from the show like the classic “Dance So Good” which his character wrote for Miranda and also played songs from his other albums. Overall an amazing set.
Now for Bethany Joy. As soon as Joy stepped onstage, it was clear that I was watching Bethany Joy Lenz not Haley James Scott. Not that that’s a bad thing. Joy is much less polished than Haley with a free-flowing energy that makes her delightful to watch onstage. She messed up and started over and swore and told stories that made us all feel as if we had come over to her house for drinks to watch her perform a few songs with the neighborhood band. She played piano (for the first time in public in years), played guitar, sang from center stage and even took a turn as a backup singer for a couple songs so that her next door neighbor Doo Crowder could share some of his music with us. She was effortlessly charming, sexy and classy not to mention that voice!
Joy didn’t sing any songs from One Tree Hill or any of the songs I was familiar with from her scattered EP’s, but it didn’t matter. Her voice and performances were so compelling, I could have listened to her all night. She has a great deep, soulful, jazzy kind of voice that does indeed feel modernly vintage, much like her website ModernVintageLife.com. Cannot wait to hopefully hear the songs she did perform on her next album!
She announced the last song of her set much too soon and of course, we all cheered for an encore. Joy seemed surprised we weren’t all ready to go home but indulged us with one last song, her very first single “Songs in My Pocket.” If you’ve never seen the adorable homemade music video that goes along with this sweet song, go check it out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uZ9jcnr2F0). The song sounded even more amazing live ten years later!
My only regret was not biting the bullet and paying the extra $50 to meet Joy. She was truly a delight and I hope to see in concert again soon.
To wrap up the night, I got to meet Michael Grubbs. He took the time to talk to every fan who waited after the show to meet him and even told the story of how Mark heard about him in the first place (one of the writers from the show attended an open mic Michael performed at). He shook hands, took pictures and signed every CD.
When it was my turn, I introduced myself and he shook my hand, introduced himself as “Michael” and asked if it was my first show. When I said yes, he asked if I enjoyed it. I told him he sounded even better in person than on TV (totally true!).
He was so sweet and as I told him, I really do hope to come to another show of his soon. In the meantime you can find me streaming Wakey!Wakey! on Spotify and complaining about how the quality does even begin to compare…