EAST LIVERPOOL- Southern rock icons the Outlaws took the stage of the East Liverpool Motor Lodge by storm on Friday evening. A capacity crowd of 500 showed their appreciation, singing along to old favorites and occasionally getting up to dance in the aisles.
Such a response is exactly what the band had in store, according to Chris Anderson, one of the band's three guitarists. "People can always expect us to give our all, no matter how big or small the show is," he said. "It's just full-throttle energy coming from the band. It's a lot of fun."
Outlaws drummer Monte Yoho rated the fans in East Liverpool as among their best. "There couldn't be a better place than this area," he said of the tri-state region, which he considers the cradle of original Outlaws fans. "This is where we got a stronghold back in the '70s," Yoho said. "We've had faithful fans from this area for four decades." He also believes it to be the ideal location to roll out fresh material from the band's new album, "It's About Pride," their first since 1994.
Bassist Randy Threet, guitarist Billy Crain, lead singer and guitarist Henry Paul, and guitarist Chris Anderson of the Outlaws were front and center at the East Liverpool Motor Lodge Friday night. In the background are drummer Monte Yoho and Dave Robbins on keyboards. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
Anderson said the band takes full advantage of their three-guitar setup. Sharing lead guitar duties with him is Billy Crain, with lead singer Henry Paul playing rhythm. Anderson said the three of them enjoy a fine harmonizing among themselves, which he said is a traditional feature of the genre. Where the Outlaws have always stood out, in his opinion, is in their vocal harmonizing. "None of the other southern rock bands had the vocal harmonies that the Outlaws had," he said. "I always thought the band was kind of like an east-coast Eagles."
Zach Paxson, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Lisbon, opened for the Outlaws. He recently released a new album, "Simple Life," the follow-up to his 2011 debut, "Good Luck With That," which has received generous airplay on country radio stations locally and across the U.S. He called it a blessing not only to be able to play with the Outlaws, but to get to know them as friends, too.
"It's humbling, to say the least, but it's reassuring that they're all good people," Paxson said. He's also grateful for the support he's received from them and other country and southern rock heroes, which he finds very encouraging. "They're like, 'Keep doing what you're doing, man,'" he said. "When the pros are telling you that, you know you're on to something."
As a special treat, St. Clair Township trustee James Sabatini was able to play guitar along with the Outlaws towards the end of the show. "I've followed them ever since the '70s," he said. "I'm going to really enjoy it." He admitted that he's been brushing up since he found out he would be able to perform with them, but felt reasonably comfortable before he took to the stage.
"I've been playing guitar actually longer than anything I've done in my life," he said.