On Thursday night, I had a fiesta of my own at Jake Scott and Ben Rector’s “The Joy of Music” tour at the Sylvee.
I would like to start by saying that I had never attended a concert alone before this. The fact that I, at 19, was surrounded by millennials and parents made me nervous at first. Although I felt a little out of place, the crowd was incredibly welcoming, and we bonded over being there to listen to some great music.
The night started out with a short but sweet opening by Jordy Searcy and Stephen Day. These two up-and-coming artists led off the show with a bang. Their amazing voices filled the venue; the songs — with rock basslines and funky undertones — had everybody clapping their hands to the beat.
The show continued with singer-songwriter Jake Scott. Scott made his national television debut on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” last month, performing his stellar new single “Texas Girl.” Scott told us the story behind his popular song, explaining the humor behind him being from Arkansas – a state that rivals Texas – and falling for a girl from there. The pair’s love story told in this song has stolen hearts ever since.
Scott’s charming vocals were only amplified by his energy and interactions with the crowd. His upbeat and joyful dancing won my heart by proving how much he truly enjoys what he does.
Scott also fit the Madison vibe, which is often described as “midwest nice” and a homey feel all wrapped into a beautiful and culturally rich city. He incorporated the pop-country song that he wrote with multi-platinum country star Russell Dickerson called “She Likes It.” This song adds a country twang while being all about appreciating the people you love.
Scott’s optimistic and poppy music had the whole place dancing and singing along throughout his 30-minute set. The room started to smell like sweat from everybody dancing, but we were having too much fun to care.
After a quick stage turnaround — one that included the arrival of a bright red carpet and a grand piano — the light dimmed once again while everybody cheered in anticipation. The red monster often seen in Rector’s posters and album cover welcomed the crowd’s cheers.
My ears were filled by the crisp and round notes from a piano as the sweet sounds of Rector’s voice emanated from off stage. The room suddenly went black as a wave of silence fell over the crowd. Bright lights erupted from the stage blinding me for a moment as he went into the chorus of his song “Living My Best Life.”
Rector’s music truly brings joy. The whole room was filled with the sounds of people's feet stomping on the ground as they danced, the lights flashed across the many smiling faces in the warm and crowded room.
His music is inspiring, with themes of life-changing optimism and new beginnings. Rector’s personality shone with his charismatic and calm stage presence.
It felt almost as if the crowd was just a group of his friends whom he was singing to. Ironically, he explained that he was nervous for this first night of his tour as it had been a while since he had been on stage. He thanked us for the welcoming atmosphere, adding that he is forever grateful for his loving fans.
As the set continued, Rector filled our ears with his amazing piano skills and family-friendly upbeat music. His band played the melodies effortlessly — as if they had been playing them their whole lives. The energy coming from that stage exuded the enthusiasm they had for playing music with each other.
Although I was a little sad that Kenny G did not make an appearance as he does in the song “Hanging Out,” Rector’s saxophonist, David Besonen, was nothing short of amazing. A college student himself, Besonen had skipped classes to go on tour after Rector saw him covering his songs on Instagram. Throughout the show, Rector showed his awe and appreciation for this young musician.
I am glad that I was able to witness Rector’s first night of this tour and I encourage people to attend future shows. I will not only be adding ALL of Rector’s new album to my playlists but also as many songs from Scott as possible.
The music was amazing, as was the energy of all those involved. The down-to-earth and kind natures displayed by both Scott and Rector made the show all that much more enjoyable.