by Dan Cohen
Brian Collins is what you’d call the real deal. He plays country music, and he’s from the country. He’d prefer you called it “Southern music,” and you guessed it, he’s from the south — or the South. A little town in Georgia. He moved to Nashville and lived in a trailer for several years (a “five-wheel,” he called it) before hitting it medium and hitting the road with his band. He’s just come from three weeks in Florida — he played Philly last night, New Jersey tonight — and will be in Nyack tomorrow, on his way up to Boston, then Maine, then Connecticut before opening for the Zac Brown Band at the Southern Ground Music and Food Fest in Charleston, South Carolina April 14 and 15. You get the picture. No moss grows here. “We play one night for 50 people and the next night for 10,000” Collins told me during a phone interview on Monday. “Sometimes a drummer’ll fly in, if it’s a big gig, sometimes there’s a friend who knows our songs. We’ve got a lot of friends.”
No doubt, with the mileage that they’re putting in. And it shows in his music — sturdy songs with sweet harmonies and solid, Allman Brother grooves, laid back Lynyrd Skynyrd with a hint of soul. It’s unfussy and rock-steady and road worthy as an Econoline van. Check out his new single “Healing Highway,” or his gospel-tinged “Shine a Little Love” or the Little Pink Houses-esque “Never Really Left.” His influences run from the classic country of Don Williams and George Jones to the classic rock he grew up on: Tom Petty and John Mellencamp and other stadium-fillers. I distinctly hear some Long Run era Eagles on my personal fave, “That Someone.”
Zac Brown figures large in Collins’s cosmos. “We came up together,” he said. “Played the same bars. Some of my best friends are in his band and sang on my album.” They’re part of a country movement that eschews theatrics, doesn’t care for celebrity per se, but get a real kick out of playing the music and playing it well. “Yeah, we’re aiming for the kinds of places he’s playing now… We’ll get there.”
While they’re getting there, they’ll be here in Nyack. Wednesday night. Yeah, I know it’s a school night, but it’s awful local. Good tunes, cold beer, and another night out on the road for Brian Collins. Listen. You can hear him call. He wants you to come out and play. Before he goes from hitting it medium to hitting it big.
O’Malley’s is at 108 Main Street in Nyack, NY. I’d tell you to check their website for showtimes, but I did that and the last month on their event calendar is July 2013! Well, they’re busy tapping kegs. I figure about 9pm. See you there!