Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Review: 49 Winchester brings Appalachian soul to Tuscaloosa

CW / Ethan Met

Country up-and-comers 49 Winchester headlined Druid City Music Hall on Thursday, Feb. 22, in a show that continued their tour’s trend of lighting up Southern college towns.

In the days leading up to their Tuscaloosa visit, the band played shows in Athens, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; and Gainesville, Florida. In the days following, they performed in Starkville, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee, before taking their touring talents to Canada for the month of March.

Folks were still trickling into the venue at 8 p.m. when opener Drayton Farley took the stage. A product of Woodstock, Alabama, only 20-odd miles from Tuscaloosa, Farley seemed to excite the crowd almost as much as the headlining act. Brad and Krystal Beauchamp, a concertgoing couple from Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, said they stopped in the middle of a road trip to Oxford, Mississippi, to catch the show, in part because of Farley.

“We saw Drayton Farley in New York and he was awesome,” Krystal said when asked what brought them to the show.

Overall, the Alabama native kept it low-key with his opening set. His songs were all mid-tempo country tunes, falling around 140 beats per minute, and his four-piece band failed to really fill the stage physically. Sonically, however, they made the most of the venue. 

Comprised of only Farley’s vocals and rhythm guitar, a lead guitar, a drum kit and a bass, the openers delivered a surprisingly full, lush sound. Their set consisted of a handful of tunes from Farley’s latest album, “Twenty on High,” and more interestingly, a cover of Post Malone’s “Overdrive.”

After a lengthy intermission, 49 Winchester took the stage to James Gang’s “Funk #49” and cheers from the crowd. The band opened its set with “Chemistry,” a track that initially appeared on its 2020 album “III” but was re-recorded and re-released last year.

The headliners came out absolutely blaring, initially to their detriment as the band drowned out the lead vocal. But as the show went along, adjustments were made to the soundboard that left everything sitting a little nicer in the audience’s ears. Noah Patrick on pedal steel guitar and Tim Hall on keys added another dimension to the band’s unique sound, which flitters between Appalachian folk, soul, country and honky-tonk rock-and-roll.

But the real rock of 49 Winchester’s sound is lead singer and songwriter Isaac Gibson. Oscillating between the rich, soulful tone of Chris Stapleton and the soaring, higher-register twang of George Strait, and adding the band’s own Appalachian flair, Gibson’s vocals anchor the band’s sound and provide a unique appeal for fans like Connor Edwards, a graduate student at The University of Alabama working on a master’s in operations management.

Edwards said “a unique voice and clever song concepts” were 49 Winchester’s biggest draws.

Half an hour into its set, the band played “So Damn Sweet,” a song from its sophomore album so aptly titled that a member of the crowd proposed in the middle of it. The couple, standing in the balcony stage left, received cheers from the crowd when the man who popped the question received a yes. Gibson, with his beard extending down to his sternum and his dark sunglasses on the end of his nose, congratulated the couple upon the song’s conclusion.

A celebration was in order, then, and the band indulged the crowd in a peppy performance of “Man’s Best Friend,” followed by “Russell County Line,” one of its biggest hits. The opening bars of the latter elicited cheers from the crowd, and before long, everyone was singing along. Toward the end of the set, 49 Winchester sprinkled in some soon-to-be-released material with “I Think I Should’ve Stayed in Tulsa” before finishing with a fan-favorite honky-tonk tribute, “Last Call.”

Jacob Andrews, a sophomore at the University majoring in civil engineering, said “Last Call” was his “favorite song out of all of them.”

On this very high note, the show concluded — but only briefly. As soon as the band left the stage, the crowd took up a chant of “one more song,” and it wasn’t but a couple of minutes before the band obliged.

“We’re going to play y’all a new one, a brand-spanking-new one,” Gibson said as soon as he retook the stage, before launching into an upbeat, unreleased track he dubbed “Hillbilly Happy.”

The band left the stage again following “Hillbilly Happy,” but the crowd hung around, holding out hope that the band might return again and play “Annabel,” one of the biggest hits from its 2022 record “Fortune Favors the Bold.” Those hopes were squashed, however, when the floodlights turned on and the projector began reminding patrons to close out their tabs and tip their bartenders.

Regardless, 49 Winchester left the crowd feeling satisfied. The band’s ability to flow seamlessly among different genres, tempos and moods gave concertgoers a uniquely well-rounded experience. The group made excellent use of lighting, adjusted to early mixing issues, and overall maintained an air of professionalism while also making sure the performance was raw and down-to-earth. There’s no doubt that the Virginia-based band made some new fans in Tuscaloosa that night.

More to Discover