McKenzie Lockhart w/ Swingin Hammers
Time & Location
About the Event
McKenzie Lockhart (Florence, AL) “This is a song about trying your best,” is how McKenzie describes her newest single, Pasadena, nearly every time she plays it.
What began as a serendipitously lyrical phrase she spoke to her husband on a trip to see their insurance agent (“I think we may be on the wrong side of Pasadena”) eventually morphed into a coming of age song laced with a sweet melody, softly picked guitars, and lilting pedal steel. It captures a feeling common among creative and passionate young adults—being unsure of exactly where you’re going, but trusting you’re headed in the right direction.
Pasadena is Lockhart’s return to a proper studio after the release of her EP Suburbs in 2018, which was recorded in live takes by a microphone in her own living room. It shows the progression of her singer-songwriter style into Americana tendencies like those of Brandi Carlile, I’m With Her, and Lori McKenna.
Trying our best is all any of us can every really do, and it is Lockhart’s ability to embrace this concept that has led to the steady progression of her musical career. Her growing touring schedule and following on streaming services prove it’s only a matter of time until this young artist breaks through to the larger audience her skill is truly beckoning.
Swingin Hammers (Nashville, TN) pens songs with the seriousness of writing an epitaph. “I’m made to carry the heavy things,” says Benjamin Rupe, who took on the moniker Swingin Hammers at the start of 2017, when Rupe’s purpose as a singer/songwriter became clear. “I can’t handle a feather, but I can handle a tombstone.” The entertaining live performances of Swingin Hammers might deceive just how weighty Rupe’s lyrics are, but each Swingin Hammers song testifies that he knows exactly what he’s doing and what he’s not doing, in lockstep with his mission as an artist.
These songs do share much in common with the big-voice Americana of Chris Stapleton and Parker Millsap but there’s a rich texture and accessibility to Rupe’s singing that’s more aligned with the blue-eyed soul of modern crooners like Sam Smith and Gavin DeGraw. Mixed with a warm rhythm section, varied playing on electric guitars and lap steels, and the occasional keyboard, the final product of Swingin Hammers’ music — whether on recording or in concert — packs a punch that crosses genre lines, while still fitting snugly within the growing resurgence of Americana, roots rock, and traditionalist country music.