In 2016, one of the world’s greatest rock lead singers is currently on tour with a country album on the charts. This turn of events seemed inevitable to happen. In 2005, he dabbled in solo work with the single “Just Feel Better” w/Carlos Santana. During his tenancy as judge on American Idol, Steven recorded “It Feels So Good” with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger which charted at #17 on the adult pop chart. He has done duets with Pink, Smokey Robinson and Carrie Underwood. But unlike his brother from another mother Mick Jagger, who has had much solo success outside of The Stones, the Demon of Screamin’ has never recorded a solo album.
Three years ago, Tyler went to Nashville, played at the Bluebird, went to Tootsie’s and jammed with buddy Keith Urban. He got signed by Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. He bought a house and got to work writing music with some of the best songwriters in Nashville. Steven Tyler himself is no slouch in the song writing department. As a teenager, he wrote the lyrics to one of rock music’s most famous anthems “Dream On”. Amazing timeless lyrics such as “Half my life is books written pages, live and learn from fools and from sages” A multi-talented performer on drums, keys and harmonica. Tyler is truly humbled by the work going on in the Music City.
His album is titled “We’re All Somebody from Somewhere” and it debuted at #1 on the country chart the week of its release. It is a catchy mix of country rock, a couple of covers including a reboot of the Aerosmith hit “Janie’s Got a Gun”. The first track of the album “My Own Worst Enemy” kicks the record off with a perfect country saga about drinking and losing love and hitting bottom. Dear Reader, don’t think this is hardcore country music this is Steven Tyler’s brand of country.
Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall is his only Florida appearance for the “Out On a Limb” tour, appropriately titled for Tyler’s foray into country music. Sold-out the day tickets went on sale, this has been a highly anticipated show in the Tampa Bay area and around the country. Tyler playing small intimate theatre venues is a rare treat for fans who are used to seeing him in massive arenas. The setlist is a mix of the new music, Aerosmith hits and cover tunes. He opened to a high energy audience singing Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” and then “Crying”. His choices of Aerosmith songs he explained were country type songs. Alternating between new songs like “Love Is Your Name” and Aero’s, “What It Takes”, he never left an empty moment. The audience was a mix of boomers, kids and millennials because everybody knows that Steven Tyler is the king of cool!
“Walk This Way” morphed into a mind bending verse of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” complete with high pitched scream. At 68, Steven Tyler surfs the stage like he always has sans the cartwheels. His band for this tour “Loving Mary” a well balanced mix of musicians from Canada and Nashville who have written hits for the likes of Carrie Underwood and others. They accompany Tyler well and are not trying to be an Aerosmith clone. There are great solos with banjo, accordion, harmonica and drums. Of course, that big anthem “Dream On” showed up with Tyler on piano and the audience singing-along. There were Beatles covers because Tyler is a Beatles fan. A wonderful tribute to Janis with a fun acoustic “Mercedes Benz” and then the Joplin classic “Piece of My Heart” which is also a cut on the album. Steven saw Janis at Woodstock and has been a lifelong fan. Coming back to the stage for the encore, an acoustic almost unrecognizable “Janie’s Got a Gun” with a chilling message. Tyler’s charity, “Janie’s Fund” credits the song as an impetus for the organization. If you would like more information or would like to donate go to www.janiesfund.org. Last song of the night was “Train Kept a Rollin” and no one wanted the train to stop.
ST is our country’s biggest rock star! His musical train has been rolling down the tracks for over forty years. Whatever genre or style of music he gets into, it is impossible for him to be anything other than Steven Tyler and thank goodness for that!
photos by Vicky Sullivan, Rock the Lens Photography