There’s a stigma against country music. Everyone has the same assumption—a twangy assortment of half-clothed women, guns, and an unusual, unnatural love for one’s truck set over a backdrop of rolling wheat fields and cattle herds. And those assumptions lead to changing the radio station at the first hint of mandolin—something I am guilty of too. And while there is certainly country music that fits that description, there’s a whole other side to the genre that is often ignored, set to sunsets over the open plains, a deep sense of family, and, often, a longing for something more. The evening’s acoustic set, headlined by Radney Foster, captured the longing of a quirky small town life, and how that deep sense of belonging, while comfortable and familiar, can sometimes be strangling.
The evening began with a set by Luke Martin, a long-haired man who reminded me vaguely of a wood elf. The stage was set as a living room, complete with an armchair and side table with a pitcher of water. He languished on a wooden stool and seemed very comfortable with the guitar in his hands. He sang of longing and of love, set to a masterfully finger-picked acoustic backdrop. His slight lean and big eyes only lended to the aura he cast, of desire and a fierce compassion. After all, as he sang, “it ain’t no use being alone, this I know."