Zane Williams Trio and Brett Dennen, presented by Sings Like
Hell. At the Lobero Theatre, Saturday, December 9.
Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko
Last Saturday night’s foray through the
fiery gates produced a raucous evening of two singer/songwriters
with divergent styles, who each pulled off a crowd-pleasing event.
The evening started with Zane Williams, an S.B. newcomer from
Nashville, who delivered poignant songs from his just-released
album, Hurry Home. Williams is a young version of the craggy
country singer, with a resonant voice that transcends labels. With
Andy Hall on dobro and Matt Raum on mandolin, Williams announced he
was performing the new album in order, beginning with “Livin’ in
the Good Old Days.”
Apparently, Williams doesn’t take himself — or his songs — too
seriously; the performance featured a number of humorous ditties,
including “You Don’t Know Jack,” a tune about a scheming bank
robber, and a beat-boxed song about Sings Like Hell that Williams
wrote just before the show. But the highlight of the performance
was “Hurry Home,” the song that won the John Lennon Song of the
Year award, and deservedly so.
Next up was Brett Dennen, a frequent visitor to Santa Barbara
music venues who is often seen playing for donations to the Naples
cause. Usually, he plays solo around here, but in Hell he was
accompanied by bassist Kevin McCormick—who plays with Jackson
Browne and who produced Dennen’s latest recording, So Much
More—percussionist Randy Schwartz, and keyboardist and trumpet
player Ara Anderson, whose solos threatened to steal the limelight
in a few songs, and might have done so with a lesser singer.
But Dennen can certainly hold his own. The audience was all
smiles when the cherubic singer played, barefoot and swaying as he
strummed his guitar, emblazoned with the word “Peace” across its
front. It was a sentiment he emanated while crooning love songs,
laments, and desires for flight. With songs like “Darlin’ Do Not
Fear” and “The One Who Loves You the Most,” Dennen’s mesmerizing
voice carried the crowd to the end of his set and through an
encore, sending us back into the rainy night with no regrets.