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Sawyer Brown, Phil Stacey, Rissi Palmer, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Chris Young in Hoffman Estates, IL 
By: Brianna Nightingale, CSO Staff Journalist
3/23/08

If there was a “Top 10” list of things to do during a lifetime, “see Sawyer Brown live” should be near the top. One reason is that Mark Miller, the lead singer of this animated group, has energy on stage that audiences simply don’t see every day.

“This is our winter bash tour, and you certainly have the weather for it,” Miller joked to his fans in Chicago. Luckily for the crowd at the year-and-a-half-old Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, Sawyer Brown performed for the entire three hour concert.

“We’re the headliner and also the back-up band,” Miller said. He had to repeat himself to get the rise from the crowd that he wanted. Nonetheless, this band was certainly fit for the job.

After Sawyer Brown’s opening song, “Six Days,” and a great introduction by Miller, Phil Stacey dove into a two song set with “Lookin’ Like Love” and his first single, “If You Didn’t Love Me.”

Just moments after Stacey, another great new artist, Rissi Palmer took the stage, showing her quick-wit and attractive, powerful voice. The third performer to mention the cold weather, Palmer introduced herself a little, mentioning that it was good to be back because she went to college at DePaul. She grinned when she said “It was cold then too.”

“Country Girl” is the second single off her self-titled album, which she wrote almost in its entirety. Just before singing “Hold On To Me,” Palmer said to everyone, “If you date me, you automatically end up in a song, for better or for worse; but mostly for worse.” Sawyer Brown was quick to toss around a few jokes about being in one of Palmer’s songs as long as that meant dating her first.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson, a Canada native, began her set with “Complicated,” from her 2001 release, Room With a View. Personally I do not understand why, but her first single off of Love and Negotiation, the album she is currently promoting, did not receive a lot of attention. She said she received a lot of letters about “Taking Back My Brave” but it “never really went anywhere.” Johnson finished up her set with “I Don’t Want You To Go,” also from Room With a View.

By the time he got to Chris Young, Miller had perfected the amusing, concise introductions. Young opened his short set with his next single, “Voices.” Another song that will be included on his next album, “It Takes a Man” came just before a song that reminded me of the days I spent trying to learn songs such as “Sold” by John Michael Montgomery and “All Things Considered” by Yankee Gray. Memorizing the words to “21 Candles” might make your head spin, kind of like the first time you listen to a conversation in another language when you have only had a lesson on counting to 10.

Keeping the energy strong, Sawyer Brown became the main focus on stage again as soon as Mr. Young was finished. “The Boys and Me” and “The Race Is On” really got the crowd going. Sawyer Brown did one more song before he tried to embarrass Carolyn Dawn Johnson. He imitated the way she approached him, asking if she could sing along on one song because she loved it. The two of them did a beautiful job singing “Café on the Corner” together.

Although Stacey, Palmer, Young and Johnson were finished for the night, Sawyer Brown rocked the stage for at least another hour, presenting covers such as Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” and “Life’s Been Good” by The Eagles.

Hits of their own including “This Thing Called Wantin' and Havin' It All,” “This Night Won’t Last Forever” as well as “The Walk” were included in the set as well.

“I took this walk you're walking now/ 
Boy, I've been in your shoes/ 
You can't hold back the hands of time/ 
It's just something you've got to do” 

“The Walk,” which Miller wrote about losing his grandfather, was not intended to be on a record because it was far too personal. "My brother Frank convinced me to put it on the album,” Miller said, although he still never wanted it to be a single because he didn’t want to risk having people judge it.

Sure enough, “The Walk” became a single, went to number one and fans tell Sawyer Brown how much they love it every single day.

Sawyer Brown finished up the evening with a standing ovation from their fans. It’s not every day that the headliner is also the backup band, but in this case, three hours of Sawyer Brown was just what this working crowd needed on a Friday night. These musicians and the other performers truly made it worth every penny the audience paid to see them.

Official Sites:

Sawyer Brown 
Carolyn Dawn Johnson 
Rissi Palmer  
Phil Stacey  
Chris Young  

Click the photos below to see a larger version.

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Sawyer Browns' Mark Miller

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Miller again...

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Carolyn Dawn Johnson

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Rissi Palmer

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Sawyer Brown

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Phil Stacey

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Chris Young

 

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