Guest Concert Review – Ray Blair on Kelsey Kopecky in Nashville’s Centennial Park

Considering that as I type this there are storm sirens wailing outside my door for the fourth time, the outdoor concert I just went to was pretty darn good!

It was a night of firsts. It was my daughter’s first concert, and it was one of her first outings without an adult. She was going with a group of highschoolers (she is about to enter high school) to Ascend Amphitheater to see Billie Eilish. To get her there I had to leave my house which was 2 miles from my concert, drive 20 miles to pick her up at her mother’s house, 20 miles across town in rush hour-ish traffic and then back to downtown Nashville.

It is my first night intentionally reviewing a concert. I probably needed the distraction. I brought a chair, a journal, a camera, and a cell phone, and a cooler of water bottles to record as much as I could about the show. I strolled into Centennial Park in Nashville as the warm-up act, a community drum performance began teaching beginner drummers to do different Sub-Saharan African rhythms. The food trucks and vendors were just getting started, so grabbed a Strawberry Bacon Goat cheese crepe and set my chair up and watched some drumming. After a few minutes guided rhythms I decided I was going to stay put in my chair…after I got one beer (Yazoo Pale Ale) and sat down for a great free show.

Other than Kelsey Kopecky, her wonderful musicians and her creative “sisters” who overdubbed her (she called them Alexa and Siri) when she summoned them, there were two other clear stars of this concert.

These stars were the city of Nashville and Musicians Corner.

Nashville has such a wonderful music scene, in every style of music, that a rich lineup can be filled for concerts. Additionally the music industry draws people from all over the world to record and write, so they can be drawn into concerts and festivals as well.

Then there is Musicians Corner. This in an organization that invests in the musical life of the city in a variety of ways, but a key way is by providing a free series of concerts every spring/summer in Centennial Park with fantastic musicians. I remember a couple of years ago walking through the park and having a brain fart thinking I wonder who these yocals are on stage…. And a few minutes later, thinking they were pretty good for a free concert in the park, and then hand-facing when I realized it was the North Mississippi All-Stars.

Well the lineup this year has been fantastic again… and free. So wow, Nashville and Musician’s Corner. This year the concert series included:

So as a nestled in for the second act, Kelsey Kopecky I was abundantly impressed with my adopted city. Kelsey walked onto the stage to quickly transition and soundcheck in a tangerine outfit that foreshadowed the way her crisp clear voice was going to refresh the crowd in a few minutes.

Musicians’ Corner is an outdoor venue in a city park. As Kopecky’s time slot arrived, the crowd was beginning to fill in and the sun was going down. There was a calm and quiet to the crowd that was pleasant but hard to stir into action. The audience was filled with parents and young children, and many who might have been there probably were scared off by the weather forecast of storms.

When the time came, Kopecky walked up to the microphone and let out the first song unannounced. The opening song had a tone of confidence and melancholy. It was a song about a relationship that wasn’t in the cards. The relationship was doomed by the line “Despite it all, I’ll be your favorite memory.” Kopecky has a crisp, higher and vocal that comes through in a pleasant and airy way with clear enunciation. After the opener, the themes of her had the vocalist more bearing the brunt of the pain in a relationship. The airy timber of her voice remained in a hum-along kind of way but the lyrics of these songs including “Status Update” and “Bunnie.” But this style of Kopecky song has you humming along with some darker lyrics and a sweet type of juxtaposition.

“Status Update” is a strong, hit quality song that hits upon a theme of letting go of feelings of vengeance.

In “Minneapolis” Kopecky gets nostalgic about home in a way that is not saccharin or disingenuous. Instead it is an ode to her hometown that shines through with gratitude. Yet, in no way does one feel a move back home is in Kopecky’s future. It has that Fargo-esque midwestern niceness in it. I heard Kopecky interviewed on the radio prior to the show and the interview revealed a gregarious, seasoned professional musician with a unique voice. In it she revealed that she and her mother had auto-corrupted an endearing saying, “break an egg” before shows. Also she gushed about her four acre farm and her fancy rooster Boyd who is threatening to get his own social media outlets.

Hints at her musical future emerged toward the end of her set. Her unreleased song with the key lyric, “It’s Saturday, I’m Doing What I Want,” has the potential to be an upbeat anthem. It is also sage wisdom for a better philosophy. It says in its own way, live every day like it is Saturday.

Kopecky finished the concert with a tribute to her husband, “You Make Me Nice.” It bodes well for the future as the band’s music hits more thematic variety. It is a wonderful, grudging homage to her husband. The tone is almost resentful in the music.

As this song wound down, Kopecky demonstrated her experience on stage. A storm blew in extremely quickly and she ad-libbed about it in the first minute of the song. And at the very end of the song, as wind gusts over 50 miles an hour started wreaking havoc, the girl from Minnesota let her accent out and belted out an “Oh my gosh” and the song finished and we all rushed to shelter.

I so look forward to seeing if this act grows another few levels with their next album. Potential abounds, as do meaningful successes in the rearview mirror.

Photos and writing credit to friend of the site, Ray Blair. This was Ray’s first review for us but we sincerely hope he comes back for more. If you’d like to have Ray cover a show of yours in Nashville, send us an email with “Send Ray!” in the subject line.

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