REVIEW: The Cadillac Three Bring Country to the Big Apple

The Cadillac Three, long-haired purveyors of boot-stompin’, trucker-hat wearin’, bad ass country music with a southern rock twang brought the south to the city on Friday night as the band hit New York’s Irving Plaza for a nearly two hour set with support from country newcomer Aubrie Sellers. The boys in The Cadillac Three – formerly The Cadillac Black  and consisting of guitarist/leader singer Jaren Johnston, drummer Neil Mason and keyboard wizard/sometimes bassist Kelby Ray – are what we here in the big city would refer to as good ol’ boys. Three dudes from Nashville who play a unique brand of sometimes country, sometimes southern rock music and take no prisoners while doing it.

The fact that a show like this even takes place in New York City is a testament to the work NashFM has done to promote and popularize country music in the 5 boroughs, a place that has long been home to rock, metal, grunge, pop and the east coast-west coast hip hop wars of the 90’s. The Cadillac Three is just the second country show we’ve covered here at Soundboard Magazine – the first was the sold out Dan+Shay show at Playstation Theater at the end of 2016 – and I’ve been impressed by the support country artists are getting in a place that for a long time was without a country music station.

So, here I am, a hardened New Yorker who grew up listening to AC/DCBlack Sabbath and a host of other groundbreaking rock and metal bands, standing in the photo pit at a country show on a Friday night, almost feeling guilty for not having picked up a set of spurs and a ten gallon hat on the way in, and I’m actually being pushed around by the fans shaking the friggin barricade. At a country show. I’ve been to metal shows tamer than thisAubrie Sellers kicked off my second-ever country show, and unfortunately as of this writing I’m unable to confirm her set list outside of her bad ass cover of All Day and All of the Night by The Kinks. What I can and will tell you, however, is that Aubrie Sellers is here to stay and is going straight to the top of the country world. This 20-something country girl from Nashville and daughter of country star Lee Ann Womack – who I actually listened to back in the 90’s when my father went through his country phase – is incredibly talented, has an amazing voice and can play guitar like a boss. She’s not just country, billing herself on stage at Irving Plaza as “garage country” and being a little bit country and a little bit rock n roll, and she can definitely play both with the help of her backing band. The girl is very, very good and I’m looking forward to hearing a lot more from her, and fully expecting to see her playing arenas in the next few years.

Aubrie Sellers warms up a very country crowd at Irving Plaza

After a 30 minute set change, a representative from NashFM came out to introduce The Cadillac Three – as he did at Dan+Shay – and it was go time for the guys who most everyone came to see. The boys kicked the whole thing off with their hit single Bury Me In My Boots from their 2016 album by the same name and which they were currently supporting on the “Black Roses” tour. I’ve gotta say, hearing the track live got me addicted and I’ve been listening to it all weekend. It’s the southern rock anthem of a rebel on his way to the grave, and it’s a bad ass song that only gets better live. The first couple other songs were Slide and Soundtrack to a Six Pack, with Tennessee Mojo and I’m Southern from their debut album thrown in after the first 3 I was able to shoot.

Drunk Like You was mixed in around the middle of the set, as was most of the rest of Bury Me in My Boots – the band played 11 of the 14 songs off their second album, along with 4 off their self titled debut, the other two being Back It Up and Life, along with a handful of country covers that I must say I’m unfamiliar with and unable to verify as of this writing. Later on in the night,  after a series of covers, The Cadillac Three went into their upbeat party anthem, aptly titled Party Like You, and immediately slowed it right back down with the ballad White Lightning. By now, it was just about time to go home, so after playing Life, the boys from Nashville said goodbye to the Big Apple with a song that is all about their home and where they come from – The South. Who doesn’t like this song? Seriously, it’s a ballad and a southern rock anthem rolled into one. The South was recorded with help from Dierks BentleyFlorida Georgia Line and Mike Eli, so naturally it’s a little different live, but it’s still incredible and still gets everyone jumping.

And with that, a night of stellar country music was over. It’s weird saying the words “country music” in New York City. We’re about as far from a country music city as you can get, and yet here we are with a country station sponsoring country shows in the heart of the most bad ass city in the world. NYC is the last place most people think of when they think country music, and that’s probably why country is a hard sell here and why it’s an under served market as far as media coverage – I was one of 4 photographers in the pit. Most outlets here don’t understand the impact and popularity of country music, and most just don’t want to cover it as a result. I can honestly say, though, that after seeing some of my favorite rock and metal bands live more than once as a fan, and covering many others as media, that The Cadillac Three put on one of my favorite shows. I’ve been to hundreds to concerts and these boys from Nashville are easily in my top 5 with their boot-stompin’ brand of country music.

Bury me in my boots and don’t forget the whiskey.

Jaren Johnton of The Cadillac Three performing at Irving Plaza