SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) was the place to rock last Saturday. In the afternoon, the Bari Koral Family Rock Band played to a family crowd, proving you are never too young to rock. Then in the evening, a sold-out crowd greeted Steve Earle & The Dukes.
It is safe to say that most of the crowd was not familiar with Earle's warmup band, The Mastersons. It is also safe to say that the duo now has hundreds of new fans. The husband and wife team played an impressive set of country-rock with their voices blending in beautiful harmonies reminiscent of the Jayhawks. With Eleanor Whitmore alternating between guitar, mandolin and violin, and Chris Masterson wringing tones out of his guitar ranging from stinging leads to mournful wails, the couple put on a display of virtuosity that the SOPAC crowd really responded to, culminating in a poignant performance of the title track of their debut album, "Birds Fly South."
The Mastersons stayed on stage as members of Steve Earle’s band, The Dukes for the remainder of the evening, as Earle put on a commanding performance. The set list featured songs from his new album, “The Low Highway,” as well as favorites spanning his entire career.
Proving his songwriting is as vital as ever, the new material stood up alongside classics like Copperhead Road and Guitar Town. The crowd responded enthusiastically to the rocking new tunes “That All You Got” and “Calico County.”
With a set that ranged from rock to folk with a dash of politics and economics thrown into the mix, the receptive audience left the theater impressed and satisfied.
Photos taken by Micha Hamilton.