Live: WGNA’s Heartstrings for Hope with Parker McCollum / Kassi Ashton
It was a damp evening in Schenectady as a fantastic crowd joined Country 107.7 WGNA for the St. Jude Heartstrings for Hope concert at Frog Alley Brewing, starring country singer and “Gold Chain Cowboy” Parker McCollum and rising star Kassi Ashton. The event was held to raise funds for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
This event was rescheduled from May 18th due to McCollum breaking his finger. The excitement to finally see him live was evident within the venue. This was a sold-out show, with over 700 tickets sold. Most importantly, over $11,000 was raised for St. Jude’s.
I personally have wanted to see McCollum live since discovering him and his hit “To be Loved by You” on Apple Music last summer. Where better than Frog Alley Brewing? The chill vibe of Frog Alley combined with its intimate feel is ideal for bringing you close to the talent. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. I’d be remiss not to mention their friendly staff and fantastic selection of craft beers and my favorite, the orange hard seltzer.
McCollum’s opening act, Kassi Ashton, took the stage at promptly 7:30pm and immediately engaged with the crowd. She has soulful voice with a rich tone which shone through in her songs, “Taxidermy” and “Heavyweight”. She also played her newly released single, “Dates in Pickup Trucks,” a fun and at the same time sultry tune that I will be adding to my playlist.
At 8:05pm Parker McCollum walked on to the stage to massive applause and screams. McCollum is still recovering from his finger injury and unable to play his guitar. He was accompanied by Will Knaak of the Austin, Texas based hard rock band Blue October and his longtime lead guitarist Brady Beal. McCollum was proudly representing his home state of Texas, wearing a Houston Astros hoodie and signature snapback. He looked genuinely humbled and also enlivened at the turn out and the exuberant greeting from the fans.
The first song up to my surprise (and thrill!) was “To Be Loved by You.” I was surprised because this is his current hit single and one of his most popular songs. Played acoustically and at a slower tempo, the song sounded just as good as it does on the recorded track. The stripped down, acoustic version put more emphasis on McCollum’s vocals, which are solid. Sometimes artists don’t sound quite the same live and acoustic; that was not the case here at all. I hope at some point he records this pared-down version of the song.
In between actively interacting and joking with the crowd, he belted out other songs including “Misunderstood,” “Never Loved You at All” and “A Hell of a Year.” He was definitely at ease on stage, while also showing his true appreciation for his fans.
McCollum closed out the show with “Pretty Heart,” which got the biggest (and loudest) reaction from his fans hands down. Nearly seven hundred people shouted out the song at the top of their lungs, knowing every word. It was a fantastic end to his set.
McCollum is currently promoting his album Gold Chain Cowboy and is on tour with Thomas Rhett. They will be appearing next at Bethel Woods on June 23rd and Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA Friday, June 24th.