Midwinterfest 2020 - Day 1: Ags Connolly
In a slight change to normal, the opening act for Midwinterfest 2020 was Ags Connolly. with his third studio album "Wrong Again" recently released, this was a chance to follow up on his recent show with the team at Collyford.
Receiving an enthusiastic reception before even playing a note, he opened with the rousing guitar intro of "I'll Say When" the lead track from his new opus, last year when he was previewing some of these songs he was affected by the tail end of a cold and ended up losing his voice, tonight however he was loud and proud. The song may have lacked the tex mex feel of the album version but was still mightily impressive.
As ever there would be light hearted musings between songs and after a few quips about it not seeming a year since we last gathered he immediately hit us with one of his classic tunes that Alan has been known to cover "Get Out Of Mind", the guitar delicately played, the hurt in the vocals plain to hear. As the last notes were played the shout of "Superb" came from the audience.
Ags plays a timeless version of country, the next song "Meaning Of The Word" could have been written at any time over the last 50 years and it would have sounded as good in any of them. The next song "Say Out Loud" has seen Ags make an appearance on Billboard, it's an upbeat tune attached to some downbeat lyrics in a somewhat open and frank lyric.
With a rich catalogue to choose from it was back to another of the classics with "I Saw James Hand" detailing the amazement at witnessing the Texas Honky Tonk man for the first time, In his "Summer Dean" cap and with his personalised guitar strap, he remained reasonably static as he fired off gem after gem. The next song "Indian Sign" came with it's own explanation for those unaware of the meaning of the term before being delivered in trademark Ags style.
Songs like "Haunts Like This" from "Nothin' Unexpected" seemed on the night to be bigger than just one man and his guitar, it came with some upbeat strumming, once again finishing to a crowd member shouting "yeahhhh" with pleasure. The new album comes with a cover of a Gordon Lightfoot song "Early Morning Rain", Ags's slowed down version was something special, delivered with passion and feeling with Ags really channeling his sweetest singing voice.
An unexpected choice for a singalong came with "I Hope You Are "Unhappy", but the audience duly sung and clapped along, which Ags managed to play with one broken string dangling down from the neck of his guitar, dancing in the lights as he continued to play. Closing out with an old cowboy song "Shenandoah" to fulfill a request, which received knowing nods of appreciation from the well informed audience before it had even started and had the room brought to a total hush apart from a couple voices, joining in on every word with Ags, in a moving version.
Midwinterfest 2020 was truly opened and opened in some style with Ags setting a marker that other acts would have to match to be considered a success,