SPRINGDALE – The setting sun cast shadows across the red rocks that make up the backdrop of Springdale’s O.C. Tanner Amphitheater. The smell of recent rain filled the air as adults chatted happily and children splashed in the 30-foot long puddles in front of the stage.
Delayed, worried and frustrated by rain, hometown singer Eric Dodge and supporting band played at the Amphitheater Saturday night for an audience that did not seem to mind the rain at all.
Not a single attendee polled by this reporter complained of the rain; instead, audience responses after the show included descriptions of “good energy,” “great show” and “I loved it,” along with positive descriptions of the outdoor atmosphere.
A storm prevented Eric Dodge from beginning the concert—scheduled for 8 p.m.—until almost 8:45, long enough that a fretful audience could have become impatient.
The stalwartly remaining audience of perhaps 200 couldn’t have cared less.
Maybe that could have been predicted, though. When a group made up of faithful family and familiar friends piles into a hometown amphitheater to listen to homegrown talent playing well-known originals and get-down, dancing favorites, it doesn’t need perfection.
It needs volume.
“If it’s too loud, you’re too old,” shouted one attendee during the after-rain sound test.
The crowd—including many showing life’s silver lining in their whiskers—laughingly agreed.
With rain gone, equipment replaced on the stage and the sound checked, checked again and then balanced to audience approval, the show kicked off with a cheering crowd and an impromptu 35 person line-dancing lesson. It says something when a band can pull over 10 percent of its audience onto the dance floor after a long wait and in the middle of technical difficulties.
The audience enthusiasm did not stop with the first song.
At least four couples hit the dance floor every time a swing or two-step came on. Hoots and hollers filled the air when the band played classic favorites like “Train A Comin’” and raucous yells sounded from the throats of the audience when the band played originals like “A Woman’s World.”
Besides being an audience-approved success, the show was a feast for anyone interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at musicians or watching improv show managing.
Listening to the band tweak the balance was easily one of my favorite parts of the show. The minutes of listening to the trial and error process of finding a good balance was fascinating.
First one guitar was too strong, then someone requested that the drums be pulled back a little, then they needed to turn up the vocals. I worried the show would either take forever to start or be a disaster when it did.
But they surprised me.
With a smiling comment that “mostly perfect” was pretty darn good when it came to sound, Dodge finished the sound test while I was still fairly certain the balance was “mostly awful.”
But I was wrong.
Having finished making modifications after the last sound test, the show started into a song that sounded like it had been sound tested to perfection, then tested a few more times to be sure.
And that’s musicianship.
Dodge gave credit for the speedy sound check to keyboardist and singer John Houston and his brother, guitarist and singer Andy Dodge.
“As far as production goes, Andy and John are really the keys to making it go,” he said.
It being the first time this reporter had seen Dodge sing, I took a keen interest in getting a feel for his skill. Dodge sang with terrific pitch and an impressive tenor range, seeming to struggle only momentarily with the upper levels of his falsetto range. He was artistic in his use of vibrato and exciting in his tonal variety. Perhaps lacking an equal amount of vocal flavor when transitioning to a classic rock cover of a song by Lionel Richie, his full range of the heart touching country colorings are what kept me on the edge of my seat, excited to see what came next.
Dodge is scheduled to perform at the Washington County Fair on the Main Stage by the food court at 6 p.m on Thursday, August 11, the Fair’s Military Appreciation Day. More information about Dodge and upcoming events can be fond at ericdodge.com.