Don Chambers is a talented musician, there’s no doubt about that.
His show Friday night at The World Famous was an opportunity to show off tremendous songwriting chops and musical abilities, and he didn’t disappoint – whether alone, with a backup singer, or with a full band, Chambers’ music created an atmosphere of worn-down hope, a man who’s been trying for so long to be good that he’s got a lot of scars on the inside.
For such a downbeat singer, Chambers was a surprisingly pleasant stage presence, nervously chuckling his way through the downtime between songs and keeping the audience on their feet and humming along.
But Chambers’ music started to sound the same after a while.
While he changed it up a bit by bringing new musicians and singers onstage with him, the songs ultimately ended up blending into each other, losing some of their impact by repeating their themes too often.
This was not a problem for the co-billed Kenney-Blackmon String Band, who presented a dazzling array of versatility in the opening of their show. From toe-tapping folk classics to mournful country ballads, the String Band kept the crowd upbeat and interested through their full set.
Frontman Jason Kenney showed off a strong stage presence with his banter and guitar work, while backup Noel Blackmon displayed songwriting chops and a great guitar performance.
The real standout, though, was fiddle player David Blackmon.
A longtime country and folk veteran, Blackmon’s fiddle playing anchored the majority of the songs, and his performance on a touching tribute to the recently-deceased George Jones was a highlight of the evening.
While the String Band’s songs seemed to lack a certain rhythmic base -likely due to their absent bassist – they were a fun and energetic performance to start the festival evening off right.
This show was part of the Athens Americana Music Festival. For a full schedule of festival events, click here.