Event Reviews
The Dead South

The Dead South

with Rainbow Girls

The Englert Theater (Iowa City, Iowa) • January 19, 2022

The Englert theater in Iowa City, Iowa has a tremendous talent for bringing incredible music to our portion of the Midwest. They consciously strive for diversity in sound and musicians that have something to say with their art. January 19th that was completely evident with two stellar groups of musicians, Rainbow Girls from California, and The Dead South from Canada.

The trio of Erin Chapin, Caitlin Gowdey, and Vanessa Wilbourn of Rainbow Girls put on a fantastic acoustic set with songs like “Something I’ve Been Meaning to Say” from their American Dreams album and “Compassion to the Nth Degree” which is recorded and will be on an upcoming album. They play a couple of fitting covers with the John Fogerty classic “Lodi” followed by “Smoke Rings,” written by the incredibly talented Mary Ford and Les Paul, before heading back into “Free Wine” from the album Dumpster fire and “American Dream,” and closing out the show with a cover of the Devil Makes Three song “Do Wrong Right.” These ladies are incredible musicians, and if you see them headed your way, grab a ticket.

As the stage clears and the lights dim, the stunning backdrop and smoke show are enough to take your breath away, and then The Dead South, who are Danny Kenyon, Nate Hilts, Colton Crawford, and Scott Pringle, take the stage. These 4 Canadians, dressed head to toe in black and white and armed with the cello, guitar, mandolin, and banjo, are a sight to behold. Their brand of country/folk/bluegrass truly makes them stand out from a genre that is packed full of talented artists, and yet The Dead South is almost a genre of their own.

Tearing into “Diamond Ring,” “Blue Trash,” “The Recap,” “Deadman’s Isle,” and “Dirty Juice,” the Englert crowd is more than just casual listeners, as the entire theater seems to know each song intimately and sings along. The Dead South, each time that I’ve seen them, always perform a huge set. With a total of 16 tunes that evening, they continue the show with “Boots,” “Black Lung,” and “One Armed Man.” Then things got interesting as the fire alarm began to sound and the theater had to be temporarily cleared due to either the fog machines or just the intense heat these guys bring to their stage show.

Once all cleared by the Iowa City Fire Department and able to return to the stage, with the addition of a bat who also made his way in swooping the crowd, the boys continue with the show and eventually land on one of the most well known songs “In Hell.” If you’re not familiar with the song and stage performance of this song, Danny and Colton play cello and banjo respectively while Nate and Scott snap their fingers and whistle the intro. They also open the song by each cracking a beer on beat, and on night 2 of their stay, they rather appropriately cracked Busch beer cans provided by my friend Mike Heart of the ever popular Hippies and Cowboys podcast.

They finish their night with The Pine Ridge Boys classic “You Are My Sunshine,” which will be available on the upcoming album Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 1 and another fan favorite “Banjo Odyssey” from the 2014 Good Company. Many of their lyrics may be tongue in cheek, but make no mistake, these musicians are amongst the most popular and respected of their genre. Seeing the live show is almost a requirement if you’re a fan, and I can absolutely guarantee if you grab a ticket, you’ll have a great time.


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