Last night singer-songwriters Cory Branan and Ben Nichols took turns taking shot after shot, trading song after song into the early morning hours. Anticipating a packed house, Matt White and crew had cleared out the tables at White Water Tavern to accommodate the large standing-room-only crowd. With his whiskey-drunk debaucheries, Nichols, who fronts Memphis-based Southern rock band Lucero, kept the place alive, especially with Jawbreaker’s “Kiss the Bottle.” When the audience asked for Branan’s “Whiskey Grove,” Nichols replied, “Oh, you want something sad?” and led listeners down dark roads that cut through his own lonesome lyrics and somber melodies proving he can do heartbreakers just as easily as he can do hip-shakers. Sitting side-by-side, Nichols and Branan chatted and laughed, toasted and sang casually as if they were playing for you and your buddies in your living room. Everybody sang along to Branan’s “Tall Green Grass” and “Miss Ferguson,” on which he tagged that intro that will move you if you let it. (“Say I got another girl, she looks at lot like you, at twenty-three, and when she sleeps I trace the places where your tattoos used to be.”) If you stayed long enough, you got to hear Nichols' “Sweet Little Thing,” which was his best of the night.
(Photo: Michael Inscoe)