Sawyer Brown January 6, 2006
No Power Outage With Sawyer Brown at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
There were a few hundred folks in the Performing Arts Center on Friday who had never seen country stalwarts Sawyer Brown live but by concerts end they were among the standing ovation faithful. This is a band that defies labels and despite the fact that they have won C&W awards they are one part rock and roll, one part country, one part honky-tonk and a dash of cow-punk thrown in for spice. Sawyer Brown and in particular super-charged front man Mark Miller don’t allow much down time for audiences, plying their fans with exciting, colorful sets chuck full of emotion and electricity. On this night it was a typical full-gallop evening of punchy pop country with a few sweet ballads mixed in skillfully. The show started in full “Six Days on the Road” giddy up and ended with the entire place on their feet hollering for more of “Some Girls Do.” You have to ask yourself when the band takes the stage and Mark Miller starts to move: how many country bands have a singer who can dance like a hillbilly James Brown!?
This is a group with a sense of humor, some self-deprecating wit and a long history of success in concert. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerhouse band including sensational guitarist Shayne Hill, keyboard maestro Gregg Hubbard and the sonorous, elastic voice of Mark Miller giving each song a resonance. The concert had its moments of sentiment as in “The Walk,” “This Time,” the true morals message of “They Don’t Understand” and the gut—wrenching “All These Years.” What makes it all the more grass-roots here is that Miller actually got the mournful but optimistic song from a furniture salesman who pressed a cassette into his hand when he was picking out a bedroom set. So goes the down to earth approach of this group that makes them easy to bond with. By the time the sweating, smiling Miller finished the first burst of pure country he had the crowd right where he wanted them. There were also some fun forays away from Mark Miller’s centerpiece in a rocked out “Already Gone” a la the Eagles done by guitarist Shayne Hill and the thundering “Please Do” by the prancing Hubbard. After twenty-five years performing Sawyer Brown seems as enthusiastic as when they got their big break back on the old “Star Search” when Hector was a pup.
The backbone of this group’s shows are the up-tempo, country-fried anthems that pump up the energy and get folks up on their feet. At Cerritos this happened midway through the second half and continued through encores. “The Race Is On,” “This Time,” “Used to Blue,” “800 lb. Jesus,” “Dirt Road” and “the Boys and Me” more than filled the high-octane bill. There was a little gravy with the new one “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand,” ”Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and a finishing encore kick of “Drive Me Wild” and “Some Girls Do.”