Andy Ellis| A&E Editor| 10-5-12
Here’s the thing you should know about the music industry – it can be brutal. You can spend years in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs making a name for yourself, gradually building a loyal fan base and receiving rave reviews on both your shows and albums from national and local critics. You can even open for acts like Bon Jovi. Then you can drive four hours north to Bemidji State University, located on the shore of Lake Bemidji in northern Minnesota, where most of the population has no idea who you are.
What matters most, and also offers a hint as to how long you will last in this crazy industry, is how you deal with situations like that. There are people out there whose egos would be absolutely crushed from the realization that the crowd at their concert, which resembles the crowd at a middle school dance, will probably only get smaller throughout the night. These kind of people would love to just pack up and go home with their heads down in defeat, wondering why no one liked them. Then there’s people like Alison Scott and her band led by Kevin Bowe. The crowd may have been small, but they played like it was a sold-out show.
After a short break, Alison Scott walked on stage and showed everyone why she’s so well-known around the cities. The magic of her voice shined through despite the acoustics of the gymnasium where she was singing. Certain crowd members enjoyed it so much they decided to turn the darkened gym into an impromptu ballroom dance session. Those were the ones who helped shape this unique concert experience.
After a singer/songwriter, who this writer only knows as Brandon, sang a few well received songs, Kevin Bowe and his band the Okemah Prophets took the stage with songs from their most recent album, Natchez Trace. While the crowd by the stage wasn’t big, it was their enthusiasm for a good time that really mixed well with the band. They ate up every word he sang and spoke, especially when he hinted at what happened after he kissed a girl many years ago. Even as the crowd started to thin, the band never let up, doing everything from a John Lennon cover to a song by Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan.
Highlights from Alison included her rendition of TLC’s classic “Waterfalls,” where she proved that she is not only a fantastic singer, but she can rap with the best of them. Among other standouts during the set was “The Trains” which had a slow, jazzy feel to it and was written by Kevin Bowe himself. She ended the night with songs like the upbeat “Trust Yourself” written by Bowe for Etta James, and then the set closer “Smash and Grab” which helped end the night on a high note.
On a Wednesday night during homecoming week when few people showed up, the pros from the cities showed everyone how you play no matter how much of the floor you can see. They showed that in the end, it’s the love of the music that keeps you going.