Houston Bernard Band brought a mix of traditional and modern-day country music influences to New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall on Saturday, August 24th. The Oklahoma-born frontman, Houston Bernard, and his band of New England powerhouse musicians have seen rising success over the past few years. First with their 2015 breakout album, Knockin’ Boots, and again with their critically acclaimed 2018 EP, Lucky Man. That’s where the journey at their intimate Rockwood show begins, with the soothing, two-steppin’ sounds of “Lucky Man.” It was the perfect track to kick-off an incredible night of country music, New York-style.
Before launching into the next song, they introduced themselves, and when the frontman inquired as to how the audience was feeling, he responded with, “Honestly, all I can think about right now is this drink.” It was the perfect intro to the next song, the romantic hangover anthem, “You’re All I Need (I Don’t Need Much).” This energetic track was further proof of how transcendent their sound is within the genre. Their wild country roots and hooky pop verses have graced stages alongside icons like Clint Black and Luke Bryan. And when you see Bernard in action, it’s no surprise he can measure up to the greats.
That vibrant energy carries over onto slower tracks like the uplifting ballad “What A Man Should Do.” On this quieter moment, Bernard showcased his slow-as-honey baritone via aching storytelling that reflects on the idea of making sacrifices for the one you love.
Then came the first cover of the night, a rock-fueled version of Bruce Springsteen’s ’80s classic, “Dancing In The Dark.” Those that hadn’t already hit the dance floor by this point made their way to it, entranced by the rocking beat and country flavor.
Before introducing his new single, “Never Grow Old,” Bernard treated the crowd to a story about his time living in New York. He spoke about how the city had always allowed him to follow his heart and encouraged the crowd to “keep following your dreams no matter how old you might be. That’s basically what this song is about.” The inspiring single encourages you to grab hold of your dreams, and shake your booty, all at the same time.
Next up the band launched into the sugary sweet, “Home Is In Your Arms,” showcasing their softer side effortlessly. Then came the cheeky fan-favorite, “We Made Out,” with its earworm chorus and danceable melody. Another fantastic cover arrived in the form of Chase Bryant’s “Take It On Back.” Not surprisingly, it kept the dance floor full right on through to the end.
Bernard paused between songs to share the chaos of their morning. The band had experienced not one, but two car accidents, on the way to the show that day. Of the second, Bernard said, “The second one I watched happen as I was having a cocktail across the street. When does that ever happen?” The New Yorkers could sympathize, having experienced the insanity of cab drivers daily. But needless to say, they understood his need for a little whiskey and relaxation.
After a bit of real-life storytelling, a rambling guitar kicked off the summer-love inspired song, “Wait For It.” Whether with a kiss from the one you love or a glass of whiskey, this will remind you of the anticipation you get right before you decide to leave your worries behind for a moment.
The night came to an undeniably fun end with their 2015 single, “Knockin’ Boots.” The feel-good country song was the perfect nightcap to an evening full of whiskey, romance, and warnings about terrible drivers.
“Never Grow Old” is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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