There’s no better start to the year when you get to travel, visit a venue with amazing staff, and listen to a talented musician tell stories about how they wrote their songs before they perform them in front of you. I think The Listening Room in Port Clinton, Ohio must have found the key to Chris Cavanaugh’s heart because he returns every year to another capacity crowd ready for an unforgettable night.
As a small, intimate space, The Listening Room provides a unique opportunity for the fans in the audience, as well as the artist on the stage. Not only is it up close and personal to be in a room of less than two hundred for a live music show, but the artist has the chance to share more vulnerable stories and develop real connections with those who attend the ninety-minute performance.
One of the most amusing things about Chris Cavanaugh’s performances at this venue is his delight in not bringing a set list. The ease with which he announces “I usually just wing it and then ask for requests. If I can play it, I play it. If I can’t, well I’ll pretend I can …..and then I’ll distract you until I find another song to play,” usually garners a fair amount of laughter and cheers from the crowd before the set begins.
Throughout the night Cavanaugh did, in fact, play a number of crowd-requested songs. The audience must have been feeling sentimental this night as requests included “Nothing There But History” and “She Used To Be Mine,” before the set launched into crowd favorites, “Damned If I Don’t” and “Country As I Wanna Be.” Plus, a special segment where Cavanaugh decided on the spot to sing a few songs that have yet to be released to either radio or on an EP.
I’ve found crowd participation to be a virtual guarantee at Chris Cavanaugh shows and this night was no exception. Close to the end of his hour and a half of entertainment, Cavanaugh enticed the crowd to sing along with a solid cover of Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls,” Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Tradition,” as well as his own upbeat number, “Back in the Country” complete with many rounds of “hell yea” and “yee haws”.
I could tell this night was a definite success when Cavanaugh had exited the stage to make his way to the merchandise table and people all around me were already talking about which songs they loved and how glad they were that they came out to the show. Nobody seemed to mind that they had to wait in line for a chance to say thank you, take a photo, and buy a CD or t-shirt as a souvenir of the night’s festivities.
When people ask me why I travel so much to see different artists, I like to tell them about nights like this because the experience will always be worth it. If you ever get a chance to see this rising star entertain a crowd, I would highly encourage you to do so. Don’t forget to check out iTunes where you can purchase some of the songs mentioned above as well as many others from Chris Cavanaugh!