I can't help but contrast the Jeffrey Gaines and Ten O' Clock Scholars concert last Friday night at Buena Vista University with another celebrated concert I saw quite a number of years ago.
It was 1981 when Waylon Jennings and his wife, Jesse Colter, performed in Rapid City, S.D. It was not the standing-room-only concert that the performers would have wished. That's good, because Jennings was so drunk that he could barely stand and I wasn't certain what drug Colter was on.
Fast forward to Friday night at Anderson Auditorium when a handful of enthusiastic BVU students turned out in a near-blizzard for the Ten O' Clock Scholars and Jeffrey Gaines concert. It would probably be stretching it to say there were 50 in the audience. That didn't matter to the Scholars or Gaines, though, who poured their hearts out to the students in an enchantingly intimate concert that held nothing back.
The Ten O' Clock Scholars, fresh from the Omaha music scene, were a refreshing break from the unfortunate fatal accident that contemporary music has had with itself. A little retro, maybe even folk, the Scholars kept their audience within the folds of their energetic, full-bodied sound.
Ryan Kosola of Lincoln played lead guitar and vocals, backed expertly by Paul Gebbaw on rhythm guitar, Justin Connealy on bass, and Taylor Stein on drums. Originally started by Gebbaw and Stein, Kosola joined the group five years ago and Connealy later came aboard. All four musicians grew up in the Omaha, Neb., area.
Kosola admitted "there could be" a definite Bob Dylan influence on the group's last number as they finished their warm-up for Gaines.
Gaines, a three-time Grammy winner, had a liquid rapport with the audience. He pulled magic from his acoustic guitar. It was more of the sort of performance one would have found in a very large living room from a very talented and brilliant musician.
One of Gaines' most popular songs of the evening was his version of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes", one of the numbers on his latest album, Jeffrey Gaines Live, which also includes "Hero in Me", "Without You", and Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come".
Gaines, centered in the Philadelphia music venue, came across with a similar Philly sound, sophisticated yet soulful and not afraid to admit to life's vicissitudes in his lyrics and stage presentation.
Gaines carried on an almost intimate conversation with his audience that included a very intriguing story about German supermodel Heidi Klum. But we won't go there.
What really made the night was when Gaines first invited Stein to share his kit onstage then the entire Scholars band. Kosola and Gaines traded electric for acoustic, and Gaines for a time sounded like a Hendrix reincarnation.
After the concert, Gaines shared some thoughts about his music and playing the college circuit.
In his current solo tour, Gaines said can can't predetermine the outcome of what happens onstage, as what happened Friday night. He said he likes to "stay buoyant" and be ready for whatever might come. When another group, such as the Scholars, joins him onstage, he said it's important to have faith in the professional ability of the other musicians. "That's really the important ingredient," Gaines said.
Musicians sitting in on sessions with each other is not unusual in larger shows either, Gaines said. "You just say to yourself, hey man, are you splitting?" if someone decides to leave the stage. Music is the bond musicians share, whether or not they know of another person's work, Gaines said. "That's our common language."
To learn more about Gaines' music or to order his albums, see