There’s nothing quite as satisfying as an artist who consistently entertains you across projects and genres. Hot Water Music vocalist Chuck Ragan has long been known for his on-stage charisma and raspy vocals, fronting the band that many of us associate with road trips and mix CDs. But when he graced the stage of World Cafe Live on Thursday night, the audience wasn’t thinking about Hot Water Music. Chuck Ragan and the Camaraderie came out guns blazing, starting the show with Til Midnight’s opening track, “Something May Catch,” and reminding the crowd of his diverse talent—and musical sincerity—that has spanned decades. Having never seen him live as a solo act, I was treated to a personal experience that I certainly didn’t expect. Taking to the stage like it was his home away from home, you get the sense that Ragan knows it’s where he belongs.
With all his cards on the table, he wooed us with sway-worthy tracks like “Wake With You” and “Bedroll Lullaby,” and charmed us with a story about savoring the time you share with loved ones. At one point, Ragan expressed his gratitude to the venue and staff, requesting a round of applause for the workers who continue to support live music.
An energetic Camaraderie features Jon Gaunt on the fiddle at Ragan’s side, a pedal steel manned by Todd Beene adding some distinctive character to the outfit, David Hidalgo, Jr. on drums and Joe Ginsberg on bass. Chuck Ragan strummed a full set of tracks from several albums, including “Vagabond” and “Revved” from his latest release, and a new track, “Flame in the Flood,” part of the score for an Americana-themed video game currently in development. He was also joined on stage by Chris Thomas, Martin Guitar’s Director of Artist Relations.
Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, opener Adam Faucett was warmly welcomed, pouring his soul into his melodic vocals, and finger picking like it was second nature.
If you haven’t experienced Chuck Ragan’s solo work, he will maintain the energy that you’ve come to expect and welcome you with open arms on a poetic journey full of romance and plenty of life experience. He has proven himself a genuine entertainer and an authentic talent. You’ll walk out feeling like you’ve just caught up with an old friend, and you’ll want to do it again soon -Lindsey Elgie