On the last night of their tour Shawn Smith and Happy Chichester played stage 3 at Rockwood Music Hall.
A few days prior the guys played Cameo Gallery and was pretty much blown away by Shawn & Happy’s ability to hold an audiences attention. The Cameo Gig, held on a Tuesday, was really spectacular although only twenty or so people attended. In NYC it’s hard to gain respect, someone always talking over the music is the norm but you could of heard a pin drop when the guys performed and that is a tell-tale sign of truly gifted musicians.
Fast forward a few days later the scene shifted over to Rockwood Music Hall’s stage 3. For those who haven’t been downstairs at Rockwood, it’s a small, dark room with a “moms basement, without the meatloaf” feel to it, the acoustics are a little flat and they cram the small tables in the tiny room but overall a nice place to see a band up-close.
Happy Chichester, started off the night by playing his usual brand of eclectic, up-tempo and feel good songs. He played tunes spanning his impressive career with Howlin’ Maggie and as a solo artist with flair and conviction. Happy is a master of combining different styles such as hip-hop and rock to blend a nice cocktail of awesomeness that makes you want to boogie down. That mix of styles is most evident in the song Battle, with it’s funky back beat and slide guitar with lyrics that are fun but also pose a serious question ‘What are you battling?’
I must admit I am a huge Shawn Smith fan, so my opinion may be a bit biased but to experience a Shawn Smith gig is likened to the heavens opening up while the trumpets blow and angels sing; it’s ethereal, it’s magical and if you let your guard down, very emotional. He is one of our generations most gifted, yet underrated, songwriters. The man is a lyric writing machine and without any fear of tapping his inner emotions crafts some of the most heart-wrenching and truthful songs anyone has ever written.
Shawn has countless recordings with multiple bands as well as one of the more impressive solo catalogues, so for him to remember all the words is pretty much impossible so he keeps some lyrics printed on sheets of paper for reference. It was actually quite refreshing to see him flip through all the sheets, picking out what he wants to play and yet still forgetting some lyrics, we as fans ate it up. It’s not often you get to see one of your heroes so humble and human. Effortlessly moving from the acoustic guitar to the piano Shawn brought out some seldom heard songs from way back such as ‘Not Too Late’ with his Satchel days and the epic ballad, ‘Upon My Shoulders’ from Brad’s “Interiors” album with Happy on the piano. After an hour the show came to an end, feeling a bit sad by it I approached Shawn and offered him my hand but gave me a huge bear hug instead and thanked me for coming out. It’s a night I will never forget, it will always be close to my heart.
Word is that Shawn’s touring days might be slowing down but know full well the tunes will still keep rolling out as he doesn’t know any other way, it’s what he does, he sings songs.
Article by: Shayne Hanley