Close to Home – Hometown acts see festival as opportunity for area music fans

April 1st’s “Close to Home” concert at the David J. Prior Convocation Center hit close to home in many ways.

Four Southwest Virginia area hometown bands and artists united for one night to entertain the people of Southwest Virginia. Earth By Train, Taylor Ray Holbrook, Folk Soul Revival, and Halfway to Hazard.

Earth By Train's lead singer and guitarist Anthony Wayne. Photo: Madison Ray | The Highland Cavalier
Earth By Train’s lead singer and guitarist Anthony Wayne. Photo: Madison Ray | The Highland Cavalier

Most of the bands and their members were based in and around Southwest Virginia with the exception of just a few members from Earth By Train who are from Ohio and Connecticut.

This concert has been advertised since February and anticipation for the show was running high among the artists and fans.

“I was just really excited to get back home, and see my people,” said Lee County native and new Nashville resident Holbrook. “I’ve followed Folk Soul Revival for a long time before I ever started my music career, so being able to share the stage with them I was happy and I was looking forward to that.”

A large group of fans used the floor of the convocation center to dance to the music and others sat comfortably in the seats overlooking the stage.

Some artists, though,  had mixed feelings about the crowd.

Holbrook said that his fans at other venues and shows have been more enthusiastic than his hometown fans, but that “every crowd that [he’s] performed for so far has been pretty rowdy so it was pretty equal to everybody else.”

Taylor Ray Holbrook performing during the Close To Home concert at the David J. Prior Convocation center on 4/1/2016. Photo: Madison Ray | The Highland Cavalier
Taylor Ray Holbrook performing during the Close To Home concert at the David J. Prior Convocation center on 4/1/2016.
Photo: Madison Ray | The Highland Cavalier

Earth By Train’s bass player Tyler Mullins said that the crowd that gathered at the convocation center was the biggest he has played for with the band, as it was only his third show with Earth By Train.

“This is actually my third show with the band,” Mullins said. “I’ve had three crowds and it’s definitely the biggest as far as size, venue, everything.”

“We treat this show just like any other show,” said Anthony Wayne, Earth By Train’s front man. “We work hard. We hustle hard, regardless of big show small show, doesn’t matter. One person, a thousand people, we hope to bring the same show every time. But we knew that this was our hometown, our current living hometown. It was important.”

During the show, Holbrook said he would not be able to take pictures afterwards, but he had a line of fans waiting to take pictures with him and get their Taylor Ray Holbrook merchandise signed. It took an hour and 15 minutes for the line to clear out.

“It’s a humbling experience. It just keeps me humble. Coming out here and taking pictures with everybody, I like to stay back. It makes forever-lasting fans,” Holbrook said.

Holbrook was not impressed with the turnout for the concert, though.

“The hometown crowd’s a lot quieter than the outside crowd,” he said. “For example, there ain’t no reason this shouldn’t have sold out. The people of this area need to start supporting artists and bands or they’re never going to do anything. What’re people doing? There ain’t nothing to do around here. Might as well go listen to some music.”

Members of Earth By Train feel that the “Close to Home” concert could be a monthly event if enough people support it.

“I hope it’s a monthly thing,” Wayne said. “There’s people to support it, we just gotta get them out.”

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