It was the perfect day for a great live show in Portland. The rain had stopped, and the sun was out just long enough for everyone to go outside, feel the sun, and get happy.
Mississippi Studios is located in Northeast Portland, and is exactly what you would expect. Quaint on the outside, surrounded by little shops…but once inside, it was happening! There is a big outside eating area with just enough seating inside; but then when you walk through glass doors, suddenly you’re in a little venue, equipped with balcony seating, a little bar, a stage, and a touch of southern flare. On this night, the performers were Georgia born Rick Brantley, and the mighty talented Kiefer Sutherland. This venue provided the perfect atmosphere and acoustics to properly accommodate these two fine storytellers. I felt like all I needed was some sweet tea to take me to that southern comfort state of mind.
Rick Brantley started the night off with, “Half Mile Hill,” off of his EP Hi-Fi. It is a beautiful song about the days of growing up in Georgia. Rick told the story of when he was little, he wanted to grow up to be a cowboy. When he realized that his dream did not seem attainable, he decided that the next best job would be to a police officer. His song, “Still Dream of Tumbleweeds,” was written as a dedication for the men and women in blue. Brantley definitely had that southern, genuine charm. His style and voice reminded me a bit of Keith Urban, with some raspy vocal moments. Rick described himself as just a simple Southern Baptist preacher’s son, travelling our fine nation with his guitar, and would gladly show you a picture of his dog back home. He did a cover of a Otis Redding’s, “Try a Little Tenderness,” with his own twist, and the audience met him with singing along. The music of Brantley complimented Kiefer Sutherland’s band well, and set the perfect tone for the evening.
Promoting last year’s album, Down in A Hole, Kiefer Sutherland kicked off the night with the first song off the album, “Can’t Stay Away.” This album, he said, was written with the help of his longtime friend Jude Cole, who is also the producer, and the one who talked Kiefer into releasing this album. Jude works at Ironworks, a record label that Sutherland co-owns. Sutherland said he really enjoys the whole process of writing and creating these stories-converted-to-music, but his absolute favorite part of the whole process is playing live. The energy on this night was both high and mellow. Sutherland said he has not been back to Portland since 1986 when he filmed the classic movie, Stand By Me! He mentioned that Portland sure has changed a bit since 1986, and that he loves being here; the audience obviously loved that he was here. I personally enjoyed how Sutherland briefly talked between songs, giving us a little backstory regarding the next song. “Truth in Your Eyes,” was written about someone close to him that he loved who passed away too soon. He said he used to not talk about his inspirations for songs, but said that one night a lady came up to him after the show and told him she lost her husband about 20 years ago and it was helpful for her to hear the story of his inspiration because it made her feel like she was not alone. Sutherland talked about some of his musical role models such as the legendary Johnny Cash. Sutherland said he respects Cash partly because of his ability to write a song about prison. So, Kiefer took this inspiration, and wrote a song called, “Shirley Jean,” about a man in prison who was to be executed the next day, and decided to write a letter to the girl he remembers during the time before prison.
One of the most beautiful things of this night was seeing this different side to Kiefer. A side that was open, funny, genuine, and a bit vulnerable. Each song told a story and the band executed it wonderfully.