The first “Losering” tribute show back in 2013 went so great, I had a hard time imagining a sequel could come anywhere close to matching it. But Saturday night’s “Losering 2: A tribute to the Songs of Ryan Adams” at Deep South the Bar was truly start-to-finish wonderful in every way. It raised $923.46 for the Food Bank of Eastern & Central North Carolina, and the music was so moving that I found myself misting up a good half-dozen times over the course of the evening.
Mark Cimerro started things off with two early-period Whiskeytown songs, which was fitting. Mark used to be proprietor of Sonic Wave, the Raleigh studio where Whiskeytown recorded the tracks that became the 1995 “Angels Are Messengers From God” EP (and later the 1997 album Rural Free Delivery). “Too Drunk to Dream,” featuring pedal steel by Dylan Ritter from Greensboro’s The Grand Ole Uproar, was particularly fine; and for a between-song bonus, Mark recounted how Ryan had taken all the pictures off the walls at Sonic Wave during the Whiskeytown sessions because he found the studio environs “too nice.” Oh, that Ryan.
I got to host and introduce the bands, but there’s no way this show would have happened without the efforts of various members of I Was Totally Destroying It. Frontman John Booker booked the acts, helped stage-manage and performed himself; his version of “Somebody Remembers the Rose” was my first lump-in-the-throat moment of the night. IWTDI guitarist Curtis Armstead also ran sound and played (leading a nice “Come Pick Me Up” sing-along), and Rachel Hirsh’s version of “Dancing With the Women at the Bar” was a revelation that she really should record.
Also working hard was Aslan Freeman, who played his own set (props for “Turn Around,” especially) and backed up enough of the bill that he was onstage for a good chunk of the night. One person he played with was Kasey Tyndall, a young singer with a preternaturally big voice for a 19-year-old. She’s moving to Nashville soon and I expect you’ll be hearing a lot more from her before too long.
Other highlights: Ryan “Showtime” Kennemur and Taylor Adams from Dragmatic pretty much killing with “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight”; Keef Debonzo’s “Lucky Now,” another mist-up moment for me; Charles Marshall and Mike Ferguson from Balsa Gliders recreating “(Argument with David Rawlings concerning Morissey),” the spoken-word bit that opens Ryan’s Heartbreaker album; and the jaw-dropping voice of New Reveille’s Amy Kann. I tried shooting video of Amy singing “Easy Hearts” and the audio didn’t come out well enough to post; but check out New Reveille’s video here.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not usually onstage myself and if you were to ever hear me sing in public — which, to adopt the parlance of Taylor Swift, is so not going to happen, like, ever — you’d agree that’s a big, big net positive for the planet. But about halfway through the evening, Deep South co-owner Dave Rose called me from my side-stage MC perch to the center of the stage, to receive the plaque below. I had no idea that was coming, and I can’t tell you how touching it was. I’d already felt honored and humbled by the whole thing, and that put a nice capper on an amazing night. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, well, you should’ve been.
All I can say is: Thank you, friends.
“Losering 2” setlist
Mark Cimerro: “Tennessee Square,” “Too Drunk to Dream”
John Booker (I Was Totally Destroying It): “Somebody Remembers the Rose,” “Feels Like Fire,” “Two,” “When the Stars Go Blue”
Ryan Kennemur and Taylor Adams (Dragmatic): “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight,” “Drank Like a River,” “Houses on the Hill”
Curtis Armstead (IWTDI): “Trouble,” “Come Pick Me Up”
Stephen Chandler Wilson (The Arcane Heart): “Dance All Night,” “Blue Hotel”
Aslan Freeman (Future Ghosts): “Turn Around,” “Am I Safe,” “Anybody Want to Take Me Home”
Kasey Tyndall: “16 Days,” “Mirror Mirror,” “Don’t Wanna Know Why,” “New York, New York”
Keef and Dave Debonzo (Debonzo Brothers): “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” “Ballad of Carol Lynn,” “Lucky Now”
Rachel Hirsh (IWTDI): “Wolves,” “Gimme Something Good,” “Dancing With the Women at the Bar”
Members of New Reveille: “To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high),” “Easy Hearts”
Charles Marshall, Mike Ferguson (Balsa Gliders), Richard Bolton: “(Argument with David Rawlings concerning Morissey),” “Damn Sam (I love a woman that rains),” “Not Home Anymore”