The short drive from Tampa to Lakeland proved to be well worth it on Saturday night. The Winter Wonderland Spectacular, being put on by local band Wiltshire, was at the Preservation Hall. While I sat at the bar, I watched as the four acts, and the audience, walked in off of Main Street. As I was grabbing a beer, the first act went on and the night took off.
First on stage was solo artist, David Brimer; just a man, his instruments, and his loop pedal. While I enjoyed his opening number, his next song is what got the crowd and myself hooked. On the spot, he made up his own song. David was describing the crowd, how he was feeling, and presumably whatever else came into his mind; and he was doing it well. His passion for his songs was palpable in the way he played. His expressions reminded me somewhat of John Mayer playing the guitar; the way he just gets so lost in what he is playing that nothing else seems to matter.
Next up, The Dealers. This rock trio from Orlando came to blast Preservation Hall to the next level. There seemed to be a theme of the artists’ passion for their instruments and their songs that night. It might have been the size of the venue, or the fact that it got too loud to clearly hear the lyrics at times, but either way, the crowd didn’t care. Their instruments took center stage, speaking for them. The Dealers did just that, leaving the crowd amped and wanting more. With seemingly perfect timing, as the band was nearing the end, a guy from the audience summed up their set with five words, “You guys are the shit!”
Third on stage was another local band, The Detectives. The audience, and the band for that matter, took their energy from The Dealers and carried it onto The Detectives. This four-piece band had me confused at first. Since they were wearing matching outfits, I wasn’t sure what kind of music to expect. However, my worries were soon forgotten as their reggae inspired sounds filled Preservation Hall. Complete with a trombone player, the band successfully got the crowd swaying along with their feel-good tunes.
Last up was Wiltshire, Lakeland’s local pride. Moving on from The Detectives chilled vibes, this four-piece Southern rock and folk band was the perfect end to this action-packed set list. Having seen Wiltshire the weekend prior, I had an idea of what to expect, although, like last weekend, Wiltshire went beyond those expectations. Starting off immediately with the harmonica, their eclectic sounds proved, once again, to draw in and please the entire crowd. Then, as the set progressed, the lap steel guitar was broken out and the crowd went wild. Wiltshire was good last weekend at Ybor City Rocks Music Festival, but at Preservation Hall, they were on another level.