Show Review: Treetop Flyers Acoustic Duo at Rams Head On Stage August 16th

Treetop Flyers
Rams Head On Stage
Annapolis, MD
Friday, August 16th

Two members from the band, Treetop Flyers recently made a trans-Atlantic flight to the States, from their home in England, to play two weeks’ worth of acoustic sets in support of their first full-length album before departing and then returning in full force this September with all five members to play the Americana Music Festival in Nashville,Tennessee.

Before attending the concert, I wasn’t aware that the duo of Reid Morrison and Sam Beer would be representing the band alone.  I’ll have to admit I started off the night a bit unimpressed, mostly because I was expecting a five-piece band, but the intimate, albeit somewhat brief, show was refreshing.  By the end of the night, I was a full-fledged fan.  Their name is borrowed from the Stephen Stills song, “Treetop Flyer,” and they exemplify the same innate folk songwriting abilities of their American idol.

It also helps that lead singer Reid Morrison’s voice falls somewhere in between that of a young Paul Simon and David Gray, and band mate Sam Beer’s intricate guitar playing and alternate tunings keeps each song fresh and new.  Again, I haven’t seen the full band perform live, but to be honest, these two could have been big just on their own.  This was the duo’s first time touring theU.S.as an acoustic pair, and I think they’ve done a solid job of increasing hype before their festival stint in September.  Plus, it’s just nice to see the depth and talent of an up and coming band like this.  Not many bands can send two members to fully represent the work of five, and personally, I think guitarist Sam Beer is underutilized as a vocal asset during this acoustic tour.  He only sang on one or two songs, but his soft, low voice brought to mind comparisons to Paul McCartney.

I’m usually pretty critical of singer-songwriter type performances.  They’re a dime a dozen these days, and I was especially skeptical of a British acoustic pair, with a name calling to mind one of the most respected folk singers in American history, coming into a historic state capital with no idea of what kind of audience to expect, and making a respectable name for themselves.  I should’ve never doubted them. They flexed their knowledge of classic rock and folk music, improvising the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” lyrics into one of their earlier songs and asking the audience to sing along.  They even played a Townes Van Zandt cover, and between songs, Beer asked if there were any Band fans in the house.  “We actually just visited Big Pink yesterday,” he said, referencing the house where the Band and Bob Dylan wrote and recorded The Band’s first album.  “Well, more like we trespassed at Big Pink,” Beer added, laughing.

During the Van Zandt cover, Morrison’s voice (with the help of some reverb) echoed out across the audience and made the modest room feel as big as an outdoor pavilion.  The whole audience was captivated, and there weren’t many dry eyes left after Morrison’s teary performance of “Putting Off the Blues,” a song he wrote about his father’s passing from cancer last year.  It was the first time he had performed it live and the bare, acoustic accompaniment made the performance that much more emotional.  The two band members came back out for a one-song encore before conversing with audience members like they hadn’t been part of the act at all. If you want to learn more about Treetop Flyers, go to their website: TREETOP FLYERS to see photos, tour dates, etc.

-Matt Ellis

Matt Ellis graduated from the University of Maryland last year, where he majored in journalism with a minor in Geographic Information Systems. He grew up in Western Howard County, Maryland and currently works in Edgewater, Md. His father indoctrinated him on classic rock vinyl and old 80s cassette tapes, leading to a lifelong obsession with the music of that bygone era. He has written for a number of different publications including National Geographic, Spinner.com, the Montgomery County Sentinel, and other local papers and websites.

Photos by Nicole Fara Silver

 

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