We don’t hear enough about sold-out blowouts by country performers in Boston. Especially those featuring Mass-based musicians.
But it’s 2019, and the Boston Music Awards not only include a whole country music bucket, but have 10 noms neck-and-neck in the category. One of whom, the North Shore-based Annie Brobst, recently showed just how strong the scene is at a swinging Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers benefit at the Hard Rock Cafe. Along with her band and Whiskey 6, which is fronted by the charged Samantha Rae, Brobst delivered a performance from the heart, the whole time keeping the importance of funding research for women’s cancer in focus.
Warm-ups came from Nashville recording artist Darren Bessette on acoustic guitar, who played a short set of well-crafted ballads along with some covers of country favorites that got some singing in their seats. Samantha Rae and Whiskey-6 came next, with chemistry and friendship shining through as the band seemed to be on its own front porch. Rae’s sometimes raspy, sometimes smooth and sexy vocals carried songs along with lead guitarist George P.’s string-picking. With banjo, mandolin, country fiddle, and electric and acoustic guitars, they brought out the full traditional lineup, and employed it to a solid effect.
Special guest Sandy Gennaro, an internationally active touring and session drummer, also jumped in for a song and drum riff. Playing several cuts from Rae’s 2019 EP release, Party Town, the band pulled in the crowd. During a second set, Rae went hard for the cause, employing two sign-holders on each side of the stage to remind the audience about the importance of funding research for and supporting awareness about women and cancer.
Brobst, one of the most sought-after country singers in New England, having just been awarded 2019 New England Country Music Award for Best Female Country Music Artist, followed on stage with swagger and major presence. Backed up by a tight band, Brobst broke into both spirited romping songs and personal reflections from her 2016 debut EP release, Ghost, as well as cuts from her first full-length album, this year’s My First Rodeo. Ballads like “Buy Me A Boat” and “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” both life stories, seemed especially poignant in the scope of the benefit.
This whole initiative began almost a year before the show, with Brobst and Whiskey-6 coming together for the cause. All proceeds from the sold-out performance, as well as from show merchandise, raffle, and auctioned country music memorabilia (including a signed Charlie Daniels fiddle), went to the Susan F. Smith Center Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The effort may even prove to be more than just a one-night stand, with Brobst, Rae and Dellisola all saying they want to make it happen again.
With Boston country rising, you never know, next stop could be the Garden.