Story and Photos: Dak Kwas
It was a bustling Saturday night in Detroit (10/22) as the streets were filled with fans of art, sports, and music. Gracing the Fillmore was Marcus King, Neal Francis, Ashland Craft, and special guest Dean Delray. This was a bit of new territory for our magazine as we typically cover rock and metal, but I was excited for the opportunity to expose our readers to a whole new genre. This show was the perfect compilation of artists to help dip our toes in the water.
Starting the night off strong was Ashland Craft. From South Carolina, she keeps her roots close in her music with an impressive resume previously supporting top country names like Morgan Wallen, Ashley McBryde, Zac Brown Band, and Luke Combs. She's even featured on the track “I Smoke Weed” by Brothers Osbourne.
Craft warmed the audience up with covers of songs by artists like Chris Stapleton. The energy was high and did not shift when she moved into her original songs. Fans can be happy to know that her debut album Travelin’ Kind is out now and streaming on all platforms.
Following Ashland Craft was Neal Francis. Born near Chicago, Neal was surrounded by the music of the city. At A young age, Neal was influenced by several blues artists and took an interest in piano, leading him to play in bars and clubs in the city and ultimately becoming the front man of his band.
Neal and his band have a refreshing sound of blues, funk, and old 70’s soft rock. The bass is a very present instrument in his art, making you physically feel the music. I heard tastes of Cee Lo Green, Tame Impala, Muddy Waters, and a hint of The Rolling Stones.
Between the openers and the headliner, Marcus King, Dean Delray took the stage to give the crowd a brief comedy set. He lightheartedly poked fun at current events like Covid-19 and politics. The man has a gift for bringing humor to troubling times without stepping on toes. The crowd was left on a happy high when he exited the stage.
As the lights went down the crowd excitedly shrieked for the final act. Touring his Young Blood album, Marcus King brought fans of all backgrounds together in more ways than one. The energy in the theater started and ended the same way, electric. Marcus and his band have a rocky, bluesy, country vibe. They’re birthing a new kind of music. It's unlike anything I've heard before. The drums and constant shredding of electric guitars play so effortlessly off of the saxophone, trumpet, and keys. The crowd favorites were “Rescue Me” and “Hard Working Man”, both songs coming from their new album “Young Blood”.
Their original style is something to be proud of. The turnout was the most diverse I've seen so far. People of all ages and styles came together to celebrate this tour. After talking to and observing the crowd, I learned some are fans of Def Leppard, Fleetwood Mac, and plenty of classic country artists like Luke Bryan. Marcus’ carefully crafted mix of genres gives something unique to everyone who listens.
Fans were dancing, singing, and loving amongst each other and with the band. As a photographer and journalist, I don't usually get to interact with fans the way they interact with each other. But tonight, the energy in this venue was different. I could see strangers loving and living in the moment with each other. It felt like everyone had known each other for years. The interactions were effortless and Marcus King and his band brought people together in a magical way.
You still have plenty of time to catch Marcus King on the tour which wraps in April of 2023. As for Stories from the Crowd, keep an eye out for more country music content coming soon!
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