On a warm Monday night, Sam Outlaw brought country music to Longboat Hall in Toronto. With openers Michaela Anne and The Rifle & The Writer in tow, Outlaw’s show put a groove into the evening, and kept the audience tapping their toes from start to finish.
Outlaw has been touring extensively in 2017 in support of his album Tenderheart, which he released in April. With shows all over North America, including recent stops in Nashville and Brooklyn, and upcoming shows in Nashville again, the Los Angeles native has put the work in, making new fans, and entertaining loyal listeners along the way.
The Toronto show opened with Brockville, Ontario’s The Rifle & The Writer – a brother/sister duo that have been playing up and down the highways as often as they can. In April, the duo played at Boots & Bourbon during Canadian Music Week, and just like then, they showcased their singing and songwriting talent on the Toronto stage. With a mix of originals and covers, Rebekka and Colby got things rolling. The combination of musicianship and vocals works well for the duo, and it’s clear to see they are continuing to find their voice.
The twangy singing of Colby’s pedal steel and Rebekka’s sweet/soft/strong voice on tracks like Gig & Colour is something that we truly can’t get enough of… and hope to see more of soon.
Following the Canadian content, Michaela Anne took the stage, solo at first, to bring Toronto her Nashville sound. Standing at the microphone with her acoustic guitar, Michaela Anne charmed the crowd with her words and songs as she made her return to the city.
Songs like I’m Not Her, Take Me Back, and Luisa all showed the assembled country music fans what she has to offer as a singer and performer as her voice captured the room from the first note to the last. And when she told the story of her love affair with the song, Me And Willie, and then shared her cover of the song first recorded by the legendary Emmylou Harris, you could feel the intimate connection that she has with the song and its writer, Laurie Hyde-Smith. Americana/Country fans will see and hear more of Michaela Anne in the future – and they’ll be happy for it.
The main event of the evening, the man Toronto came out to Longboat Hall to see, all the way from sunny Los Angeles, Sam Outlaw headlined the Monday night gig with all of the showmanship and talent that we all expected.
The twangy, old-school, California country voice of Outlaw rang through the speakers as his band (including Michaela Anne on keys) played through a set of songs that included tracks from Tenderheart and fan favourites like Who Do You Think You Are and I’m Not Jealous.
With his best silk shirt rolled up high at the sleeves, and his cowboy hat tipped low in the front, Sam Outlaw gave Toronto to full experience that he offers on tour. And while it was a Monday night in the city, the fans in attendance didn’t care, embracing the chance to see the American singer live.
Outlaw’s sound was full and rich, which was no great surprise as he and six bandmates worked through his catalogue. And while we’re certain that we could sit and listen to Sam Outlaw if he sat on a stool and strummed a guitar by himself, it was lovely to hear the entire room filled with the music that Outlaw presents to the world.
2017 has been a big busy year for the singing California cowboy, and while he’s earned some downtime, we hope it won’t be too long before he’s back to play in Toronto again.