When Austin Crane played the release show for his album Place at the Table at New Brookland Tavern years ago everyone in the audience threw roses on stage after the last song. It was both an emotional and touching moment, well deserved by Crane who has earned the respect of fans with earnest songwriting over the past seven years. I never thought I’d see a repeat of that moment, but after the final song Saturday night, flowers covered the stage once again.
The release show for Yes I Know I’ve Loved this World is the third Valley Maker show in Columbia, SC this year. In February Crane debuted new songs for the first time since the release of the first self titled Valley Maker album with Godwin singing at his side. Then again, only weeks ago, Crane played through new material solo and acoustic at a house show in Columbia, SC for friends and fans alike. Months of preparation went into a ten song album that was recorded in only four days at Archer Avenue Studio, the same studio Crane recorded his previous albums. In February Crane had a 6 song Summer EP in mind, today he has a full length album in hand, with its praises already being sung all over.
New Brookland Tavern is notorious for being steamy in the summer time, especially when there are 200+ people in the room. It was balmy like expected, but the addition of strategically placed fans around the room did help. Valley Maker shows have a tendency to bring people together, both old friends and new. Early on in the night the crowd noise was deafening and not conducive to the intricacy of Amy Godwin’s music. While that was annoying, the audience did a good job of keeping it in check for Valley Maker. As fans packed in, Crane and company guided the crowd through an hour-long set that included material from both Valley Maker albums. Crane and Godwin were joined on stage by Crane’s longtime musical collaborators and bandmates who also played on the recording of the album. It’s been a long time since they’ve shared the stage, and it was something special watching them together again as they moved on and off stage from song to song. Bass player Jimmy Gibson could hardly keep his smile in check all night, excited to be performing live with that group once again. Caleb Weathersby’s steady drumming and percussion keeping the crew in check, while ever-tasteful guitarist Nate Poole added texture and a perfectly fitting guitar solo on “Something Like Someone”.
During the final moments of the set, Crane and Godwin had the stage to themselves performing “Goodness”, the closing track on Yes I Know I’ve Love this World. Joined by friends and bandmates singing background vocals, the duo at the core of Valley Maker had the crowd locked in, as they stood with flowers in hand watching the set play out. Just look at the picture above, that’s pure joy and gratitude and a memory that will last a lifetime.