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Beam, Bridwell join forces to deliver reimagined tributes

Throughout Canalside’s stellar summer concert lineup, there haven’t been many opportunities for attendees to find an Adirondack chair, lean back and let the scheduled set soothe aside a Thursday sunset.

Matt and Kim ignited an explosion of glitter and balloons. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones tried to incite turf-related uprising, and Badfish lured nearly 20,000 to the waterfront for a night’s worth of sweat-drenched Sublime songs. After nearly two months of mostly frenetic performances, the venue was due for the type of Taylor-aided splendor South Carolina natives like Sam Beam and Ben Bridwell could deliver.

And thankfully, the men behind beard-friendly alt-rock favorites Iron and Wine and Band of Horses didn’t disappoint, as both joined for their own originals and acoustic-accented covers throughout Thursday night’s picturesque evening off Buffalo’s waterfront.

Normally, musicians with the size, depth and variety of catalog selections belonging to Beam and Bridwell wouldn’t lean on a show full of relatively obscure tributes. Throughout the last two decades, both have released stunningly powerful and emotive material, with Iron and Wine’s “The Shepherd’s Dog” and Band of Horses’ “Everything All The Time” merely two examples. But with July’s “Sing Into My Mouth,” the two longtime friends joined to record reimagined covers of songs from artists as stylistic disconnected as the Marshall Tucker Band and Sade. But as opposite as these subjects seem to be, they’re united by the same southern hush and delicate musicianship that have made Beam and Bridwell so meaningful to so many listeners.

Thursday night, both combined to bring these attributes to Canalside and deliver some of the summer’s most beautiful music.

After leading in with their cover of former Faces member Ronnie Lane’s “Done This One Before,” the duo revealed the night’s plan: deliver their reimagined tributes to some forgotten gems, all while taking turns on titles from each other’s career. On Band of Horses’ “Slow Cruel Hands of Time,” Beam – looking like a Williamsburg-based Moses – took the lead, delivering the song’s tender vocal before his tour partner tried his own hand at a rollicking version of Iron and Wine’s “Southern Anthem,” echoed with the requisite twang necessary to represent the evening’s Gamecocks.

By the time their splendid, Bud Fox-free edition of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place” connected, the night’s crowd seemed to be all in for both the show and the set’s easy vibe. And for the night’s few holdouts that were hoping for a large helping of both Beam’s and Bridwell’s material, many were given some memorable highlights in the way of Band of Horses material. On favorites “Detlef Schrempf” and “No One’s Gonna Love You,” Beam offered two versions even more tender than the originals. On the former, he joined Bridwell to slow it down to a creeping thump; on the latter, he pulled it back even more, executing via gentle strum.

Priming the crowd for Beam and Bridwell was rising alt-country star Lydia Loveless. Joined by her four-piece band – including the hard-charging Fender work of Todd May – the Columbus, Ohio, native entertained early arrivals. Whether on “Somewhere Else” or the Linda Ronstadt-recalling “Hurts So Bad,” the diminutive songstress gave Buffalo a taste of why she’s regarded as an up-and-comer at clubs and record counters.

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