I cannot say this plainly enough: The Saturday Night Special is Special because of Louden Swain.
Yes, I enjoy the special guests. Yes, I miss it when guests aren’t at the convention and therefore not at the concert. So, yes, I missed Gil and Briana and Kim and Ruth and Osric.
But let’s not forget that this is Louden Swain, live, on stage, pouring out their hearts and their souls for us. It is Billy Moran and Michael Borja on guitar. It is Stephen Norton on drums. It is Rob Benedict playing guitar and singing with so much passion you can actually, tangibly, feel it in the air. This is a raw, unfiltered show of energy and passion and love pouring out to us through guitars and drums and lyrics.
They started the show with the title song from their new album, “Ain’t No Time Like The Present Time.” They played “Taxi Driver” and “Leg Up,” two other songs from their new album. They performed fan favorites like “Bandaged Hand,” “Eskimo,” and “Mamma’s Jam.”
Special guest Matt Cohen sang “Song 2” aka the ‘Whoo Hoo’ song. When Matt is on stage at the concert, it is just so much fun. He is so full of energy, and you can just feel how much fun he’s having on stage. Side note: BMW has a commercial using this same song, with a tagline of ‘go wherever the fun takes you’ and I think of Matt Cohen every time! #MattAsBMWsNewDriver but I digress…
Mark Pellegrino joined the stage and I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised! He sang “Baptize Me Over Elvis Presley’s Grave.” This country song has an edge of good ol rock and roll, and Mark absolutely nailed it.
We were treated to a duet with Rob and Creation’s Stephanie Dizon singing “Crooked Wheel.” Stephanie was on point with her vocals and her fabulous shakers.
And let me tell ya, I was there, Jason Manns has an incredible voice! Not only did he hit that note, but dayum, he nailed that note, and he held that note forever and ever. Amen.
My sincerest apologies to both drummers, Stephen Norton and Mark Sheppard. Drummers shots are so challenging for me. The drummers sit back in the very poor, craptastic lighting of the shadows, almost always covered by drums and drumsticks and cymbals, and well, I didn’t get a single decent shot. My view of both drummers was completely blocked by either the fans in front of me (not their fault!), or the stupid drum set (totally drum set’s fault). So yes, dearest Stephen, I’m sure you did your thing and banged those drums and it was awesome. And yes, Mr. Sheppard, I know you were there, and I am sure you were absolutely rocking the drums, and smiling, and laughing, and I am so so sorry I missed most of these… ok, like literally all of these shots. Next time, I promise.
We were also blessed with not one… not two… but three songs from Jensen Ackles. First he sang a heart-stopping version of “Tennessee Whiskey,” with Jason and Rob. It was simply beautiful, and I melted a little.
Then he sang “Whipping Post.” And I melted a little more.
And then he sang “Wagon Wheel” with ‘Quattro Formaggio’ which includes himself, Rob, Richard, and Jason.
And through all of his singing and my melting, I had a thought… and I thought it again and again as I went through the pictures… Jensen in that black leather jacket reminded me so much of a young Elvis Presley. And yep, I melted some more. At this point, I think I’m just a melted buttery mess. And I’ll say this too: Jensen in a black leather jacket, singing with such passion, well, that really should be a crime, I think. No one person should be allowed to look that damn good while holding a microphone. Just no. Okay, yes, and don’t ever stop.
There was also a sweet moment when we all sang happy birthday to Jensen and Mark Pellegrino brought a cake to him.
There were true heart-breaking, hyper emotional moments as well. Everyone exited the stage, leaving Rob there by himself, with just a guitar… and he poured out “Fare Thee Well” and I swear, you could hear a pin drop. We, collectively as a crowd, literally hung on his every note. We mouthed the words silently so as to not take away from the tone of his voice as he sang. We took the breaths with him. And his guitar and his voice and his passion echoed against our breathless silence, throughout the hall, and no doubt across the StageIt universe.
As if that weren’t enough to break me, Louden Swain also performed “She Waits.” You know the song, the one that is so full of love and pain and confusion and heartbreak; the song that breaks Rob, and breaks us; the song that makes us just want to wrap up Rob in a warm fuzzy blanket hug of love and support. Yeah, that song. And the crowd waved candles and glow sticks in solidarity with Rob. And he cried. And we cried. And he said, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” And we cried some more.
The show ended with “Medicated” and a kazoo chorus from the special guests and from the crowd. And it was beautiful.
But none of that was the highlight of the concert for me.
Usually Stephanie leaves the stage after singing the “Crooked Wheel” duet with Rob. But this time… oh this time… she stayed. Rob then told us a little story about writing a song after he’d had his stroke, a little bit about what he was dealing with and thinking and feeling.
And with the strum of that first chord, I knew. I knew why Stephanie had stayed on stage.
With Stephanie on back up vocals, Rob and Louden Swain played “Angela.” I quite literally listen to this song at least once almost every day. The lyrics are beautifully, imaginatively written. The music is haunting and jarring and uplifting all at the same time. I did not know the story behind the song until that night, and I suppose that knowing it now only makes more sense of the lyrics, as it relates to Rob and his own personal struggle. But even if he had not shared his story about writing this song, it would still be my anthem.
I can honestly say that I have never, ever experienced first-hand a live performance of a song that means something to me.
And with the strum of that first chord, I choked on my own breath. My heart lodged in my throat. Tears welled in my eyes, and for a moment, I almost let those tears fall. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t let those tears fall because this was it, this was my moment. Because guess what – that’s how I do it. That’s how I live in the moment. So I choked back all of those salty tears. I soaked in all of those feelings, and emotions, and thoughts. I felt all of that, and all of the chords, and words, and vocals, and I felt it wash over me and consume me and play out through my lens.
Billy, Mike, Stephen, Rob… you set me right.
just a mom with a camera