For the third consecutive December, Timothy Showalter, the mastermind behind one of Philadelphia’s best groups, Strand of Oaks, played a trio of solo shows at Boot & Saddle. Sunday’s gig was the third and final of 2017, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Showcasing songs from his 2017 LP, Hard Love, to much earlier ditties, the night revealed a musician unafraid of exposing emotion and the innerworkings of his craft. Here are four standout moments and some photos from the night.
1. Showalter is a showman
This guy knows how to woo an audience. Early on he gushed over everyone in the room, stating that he hopes these yearly December gigs can go on forever and that they will return again in 2018 and beyond. The audience returned that love throughout the night in the form of hoops and hollers, sing-alongs and other yells of encouragement. Showalter utilized that energy to create a passionate display of musicianship that will no doubt keep those of us in attendance listening for years to come.
2. He’s also a songwriting genius
Showalter ended the night with his crowning pop-rock achievement “Goshen ’97,” which was the perfect bookend to an evening of deep, contemplative tunes from his ever-expanding catalog. Standout moments from the setlist? Hard Love’s “Radio Kids” was stripped bare to stunning effect. The epic “JM” was emotive as ever. Deeper cuts like “Sister Evangeline” sounded fresh, and Showalter’s newest tune, a love song dedicated to his wife, fit perfectly into his rock oeuvre.
3. He keeps you wanting more
Showalther kept to about a third of the stage, which was adorned with a large vintage rug and lit with the barest amount of lighting possible. His trademark long hair swished, and his emotive face belted out lyrics of despair and redemption. The masterful single guitar, perfectly echoed within the tight, sold-out confines of Boot & Saddle, completing an aural experience that will draw me back to any stage he’s performing on for years to come.
4. Hemming opened with a brilliant set
Local singer-songwriter Hemming put on a tight, emotive set that was punctuated with songs of sadness and longing from her self-titled debut—as well as a few brand new gems. Showalter commented that he thinks she’ll be so big that Strand of Oaks will open for her next year. At the very least, she is yet another example of Philly’s power to produce the best damn musicians on the planet.
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