If anyone needed proof that Ed Roland is a good guy, the evidence was on full display Friday night at Eddie’s Attic.
For the fourth or fifth year –Roland wasn’t sure exactly how long – the Collective Soul frontman and Attic legend Eddie Owen teamed for a weekend of charity-driven concerts highlighted by guest performances.
At last night’s show (a second is tonight), the intimate venue was packed early with a crowd filled with fans, charity volunteers, Roland’s family and friends and even The Weather Channel’s Nicole Mitchell (happily pointed out to me by my husband).
While Roland, looking erudite in glasses and a crisp white button-down, was the primary draw, his first guests of the night threatened to overshadow his veteran status through their sheer excellence.
The sister act von Grey (their last name), based in Alpharetta, was nothing short of stunning on their original songs “With You I Can” and “Rise Up,” written in response to the Nashville floods.
Exhibiting poise stratospheres beyond their years – keyboardist Petra is 10 and the oldest, bassist Kathyrn, 15 – von Grey soared on the lead vocals and harmonizing of front sisters Annika (14) and Fiona (13).
With original songs an intoxicating combo of country and pop highlighted by Annika’s violin, von Grey also proved adept at covers, turning out a seriously funky “Little Drummer Boy.”
“On behalf of the other artists performing this evening, thank you, goodnight,” Roland joked as he and Owen helped the girls dismantle their set.
Once Roland took the stage, the tone of the evening shifted to one even more casual, as he explained the origin of some songs before playing them on a white acoustic guitar.
“Heaven’s Already Here” was written “when I followed a girl to Hawaii.” Then, when the romance quickly faded, “Wasting Time” was born. And the third song in the trilogy, “Sister Don’t Cry,” “is about an ex-girlfriend.”
Though his storytelling elicited chuckles, Roland, a Stockbridge native, explained the sober back story to “Sister,” which gave the ballad even more resonance.
His familiar deep voice with a slight tremble sounded robust all evening – except when he brought his 12-year-old son, Lindsey Chris, on stage to play guitar.
“I’m not going to cry,” he said shakily and with a smile while introducing his son.
Lindsey Chris confidently played rhythm guitar as his father sang “December,” Collective Soul’s 1994 rock smash.
“I haven’t had stage fright in 20 years, but I just had it,” Roland said at the end of the tune.
Also among Friday’s guests was 13-year-old guitarist Jared Goldman, whom Roland plucked out of an audience earlier this year to play with him on stage and was suitably wowed.
Goldman shared his Stevie Ray Vaughan stylings with impressive precociousness.
Friday’s show benefited 12 Bands/12 Kids and The Humane Society while tonight’s proceeds go to First Tee Atlanta and Share the Warmth Atlanta. Attendees are also asked to bring a new or used blanket to donate to the Warmth organization.
Patio tickets ($15) can be purchased for tonight’s concert at www.eddiesattic.com and picked up at will call. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show begins at 8 p.m.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene blog
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