Event Date: 7/30/2023
Venue: The Cottage at The Crystal Coast - Atlantic Beach, NC
Reviewer: Jennifer Smith
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Photo Credit: Jennifer Smith / Lovin' Lyrics
As the sun was setting on the North Carolina coast on Sunday, July 30, the stage lights began to rise and one of the best nights of music I've experienced in a long time was about to begin.
The crowd was ready for a night of musical memories, good times on the beach with friends and making new connections. The buzz in the security line was full of stories about growing up with "Hootie", sunshine and sunburns, friends who were reconnecting from college, family reunions and how this night was going to be one for the memory books. They weren't kidding.
The show was held at a relatively new wedding and event venue, "The Cottage at The Crystal Coast". The great thing about this venue is how intimate and absolutely beautiful it is and that sits right on the the beauty of Atlantic Beach, NC. It's a 3 story beach house that can hold up to 225 guests inside the house itself, with open air decks that can comfortably accommodate small bands or wedding parties, a bar, various rooms for gatherings, a walkway to the sand and water and a fenced in 5,793 square foot luxury ocean front lawn with a stage set up for a full band that can accommodate even more guests. This is truly a unique venue and one of the best I've ever been to. The staff was great too! Even better, it's less than a 10 minute drive from my house. Oh! I have to give hardcore kudos and accolades to the tour bus drivers on their perfect navigation of our tiny, narrow and difficult beach neighborhood streets and being able to park those behemoths beautifully. Hats off to y'all and high fives all around!
Now, let's talk about this show. Holy Pirate Ship! (Ha, Eastern NC is ECU Pirate Nation, the home of Blackbeard and the wreck of his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge is 12 miles off the coast so ya see what I did there instead of cursing and making it accomodating? LOL) So, ahoy mateys, this show was UH-MAZING and when it comes to the state of music these days, I don't use that description as much as I used to.
Let's start with the crazy good vocals of Maggie Rose. You might remember her as Margaret Durante from several years back, but the key words here are "You" and "Remember" because her voice is definitely one you do not forget. This girl can hit notes you never knew existed and she can carry a note for days without wavering. I can say with no hesitation that she has one of the absolute best female voices in music and, as a side note, dear radio, you suck for not giving her the airplay she should have. She took the stage with her band (Kyle Lewis - guitar / Judd Fuller - Bass / Timothy Burkhead - Drums / Kaitlyn Connor - Keys) and slayed it right out of the gate when she launched into "Dead Weight". I took a minute to look around and every eye was on her and you could her whispers of "Dang she's good", "How have I not heard of this girl?" and similar things. Needless to say, she done good. LOL!
The rest of her set was outstanding and I actually hated to hear her sing the last note. I hate I didn't get to finally meet her in person after talking about her to y'all for so many years but I did get to hug on her awesome tour manager, Max, who is a longtime friend from Raleigh that left and went to hit the road with her. Seriously, if you are looking for some really good new music to add to your playlists (and I'm not just talking to the streaming users, I'm talking to you radio), add her music and keep an ear out for more new stuff on the way.
DO RIGHT BY MY LOVE
DON'T DO IT
BODY ON FIRE
I'M NOT A SAINT
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR
Now ... the man, the myth (not really because he definitely exists), the legend - HOOOOOTIE! I mean Darius Ruckkkkkker! I can't even tell you how excited I was for this. Darius has long been a bucket list check mark for me. I grew up in the era of the Blowfish and have been a longtime fan of every single solo album he's put out. I have a "It's Darius, Y'all" playlist with every song possible on there. No, really. There is just something about him that pulls you in. I think it's the dance moves, the smooth moves of the feet and the smile that did not leave his face this entire show. Oh, he sings pretty good too.
The music started and Darius came up the stairs from side stage and walked into a chorus of appreciative applause and screams, a few drunken "hell yeahs" and quite a few cat calls from the ladies. You knew this was just gonna be a good night. He started the night telling us that he was gonna play some real country and also take us back to the 90's. The crowd went nuts. What I truly appreciated about this night, from both artists, was the chance to put away social media, turn off the tv, silence the news and shut out the world outside the fence and keep politics quiet for a few hours. Darius and Maggie made the night about the music and the fans who love it, not about what's going on other than in that moment.
He kicked off the night with 3 songs that fit perfectly for this night, his brand new single, "Have a Good Time", which was released today (August 4) and is the first single from his upcoming album "Carolyn's Boy", "Beers and Sunshine" and "All I Want". I think he chose these songs to let us know that was the reason he was there, for us to just have a good time. Thank you for that, Darius. He didn't just do his own stuff, he threw in some unexpected surprises with his own renditions of John Mellencamp's "Little Pink Houses", Tim McGraw's hit song "I Like It I Love It", TLC'S "Waterfalls" and Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison". Man, it was great to take a trip back to the days before social media and when we didn't worry about what was going on in the world. I will not apologize for my really bad, loud singing. Can we do more of that please? The tears flowed during the songs I knew were gonna make me cry - "It Won't Be Like This For Long:, "If I Told You" and "Don't Think I Don't Think About It". He brought the Hootie out with the classics, "Let Her Cry", "Hold My Hand" and I Only Wanna Be With You". He mixed in some other great songs like "Alright", "Homegrown Honey" and a few others before wrapping up the best night ever with the one he couldn't get out of there without doing, "Wagon Wheel". I have to give the highest of props to his band - probably one of the most entertaining and talented group of musicians out there - Quinton Gibson - guitar / Garry Murray - Every instrument ever made / Lee Turner - Keys, Acoustic Guitar / John Mason - Bass / Jeff Marino - Drums / "Sasha" Ostrovsky - Dobro, Steel guitar, Banjo, etc). Y'all were the best! That dance near the end, though - hysterical!
HAVE A GOOD TIME
BEERS & SUNSHINE
ALL I WANT
FIRES DON'T START THEMSELVES
IT WON'T BE LIKE THIS FOR LONG
FOR THE FIRST TIME
LET HER CRY
I LIKE IT, I LOVE IT
COME BACK SONG
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
IF I TOLD YOU
DON'T THINK I DON'T THINK ABOUT IT
HOLD MY HAND
ONLY WANNA BE WITH YOU
HANDS ON ME
Darius and Maggie, seriously, THANK YOU for the best night. Thank you for not just standing up there and singing, but for truly engaging and connecting and for showing that you were having as good a time as we were. I know needed it and know those around me did as well. I had some great conversations before and after the show with some people who said this was getting them out of the negativity around them and giving them a night of peace and a reason to smile. You both are the best. I am so thankful I was able to be a part of this night. What a welcome relief from the stress of what has become the new "normal". Thank you to The Cottage for hosting this fantastic show. Can't wait to do it again.
Be sure to stream/download music from both artists, check out their websites and follow them on social media!
All Photos Credit: Jennifer Smith / Lovin' Lyrics