Sarah Shook And the Disarmers Own the Night

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers

w/ Rickey Dickens, and Maple Sparrow

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, Will’s Pub, Orlando, FL

Last night, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers played to a small, but enthusiastic crowd of curiosity seekers turned true Sarah Shook & the Disarmers (423) vgbelievers. And all are ready to testify to the power of what they saw.

Most everyone there had heard at least a few tracks, and maybe read a few glowing reviews and wanted to see if Shook and band could be as great everyone is intoning. She was brilliant and more.

For one thing she starts with some achingly honest material and works upward from there. Take heed. When everything else fails, start with some good songs and genuine reflections on regret, loss and heartache. Secondly, her backing band, The Disarmers, served the songs properly. Phil Sullivan on Pedal Steel, traded leads back and forth with lead guitarist Eric Peterson, adding the right amount of color to the songs.

“Fuck Up” is memorable and and possibly the most unflinching musical indictment of God and man since Frank Zappa’s “Dumb All Over.” Offering the following wry observation, “God never makes mistakes, he just makes fuck ups.”

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers (417) vg“Heal Me” is an unrepentant look at liquid comfort. “There’s a hole in my heart ain’t nothing here can fill/But I just keep thinking surely the whiskey will.”

None of these songs sound like they belong anywhere near a top 40 country station, thankfully. But they do remind me of lonely truck stops ringed by pine trees, where the smell of diesel exhaust mixes with bacon grease and eggs cooking at 3:00 am. The travelers are hopeful about their journey’s. Those working resigned to enduring another shift. And all mixed together, a patchwork of American life trying to get through one more day.

Leesburg act Maple Sparrow opened the show with a sweet blend of country blues. Fronted by Amy Robbins, the songs show promise. Orlando’s own Rickey Dickens took the stage as a duo and left as trio, which indicates growth on some level. He and a fiddle player fleshed out country folk numbers that sounded achingly real. Love and loss were worked out cathartically, a troubled soul having a breakthrough moment of clarity.

This might sound selfish, but I’m glad I was here among the few. I’d love to see her playing packed rooms, and believe it’s coming soon. The time will come when I’ll be able to rightly claim, I saw Sarah Shook in a half empty room, before everyone got hip to her, and she was perfect.