Weaving Stories and Songs
With Ryan Culwell.
The Neilson Hubbard cavalcade of stars entertained a supportive audience Sunday evening as Amy Speace and Ryan Culwell put on a songwriters showcase at the Music Box Supper Club located on the west bank of “The Flats” in downtown Cleveland. The fostered friendship between both of these Nashville artists came about partly due to releasing new albums this past March produced by Hubbard. This leg of Speace’s tour was the final stop with Culwell opening, so it was a real treat for this writer to hear both sharing the stage after previously reviewing Speace (ND 03222015) and Culwell (ND 04072015) album releases.
Ryan Culwell grew up in the west Texas panhandle where the dustbowl began. It was a night of unique connections, as Culwell reminisced of being a rebel rooting against Perryton favorite son Mike Hargrove, the former all-star first baseman and manager of the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 World Series. That did not dampen Culwell’s eight song set mostly touched on songs from his latest release Flatlands. Highlights of the acoustic guitarist performance included the echos from the heartland “Won’t Come Home” and the emotional “I Think I’ll Be Their God”. A Father of two girls with one on the way, Culwell sang a touching version of “Tie My Pillow To A Tree” that he sings to them at night and hopes his daughters carry it with them. Amy Speace came out to join in with vocal harmonies on “Flatlands” to close out his portion of the evening. Culwell showed he is the real deal and expect to hear more about him as folks begin to notice the talented singer/songwriter.
Not to be outdone for the local love, Amy Speace brought along from Nashville Megan Palmer, who grew up in Northeast Ohio, to play fiddle and sing harmonies to the delight of a contingent of family and friends. Speace worked in a number of songs from That Kind of Girl, an album built around stories in her heart and the red flag relationships that play out like a Meg Ryan movie. Speace set up her songs with stories and tales which heighten the live performance beyond what you hear from the comforts of your family room stereo. Highlights included “Better Than This” that exemplified Speace finally looking in the mirror and the gospel infused “Three Days” written for her Father. She delved into her songbook for “”Killer in Me”, “Sea and the Shore”, “The Fortunate Ones”, and her first big hit “The Weight of the World” recorded by Judy Collins. Speace put down the acoustic guitar for one song, taking a seat at a baby grand piano for a lovely rendition of “That Kind of Girl”. A great country western song title came out of a trip through the Texas hill country called “It’s Too Late to Call it a Night” and she closed out the evening with a song written the day after Pete Seeger passed away titled “Hymm for the Crossing”.
For the many who missed out, hopefully these two will swing back through these parts again.