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Moakler does it his way

Brighton Music Hall, Boston, May 11, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Steve Moakler told the good-sized crowd that he had played just about every college there is in the area. Now, that would be quite a lot and probably a bit hyperbolic. But the point is he's trying to do it his way.

Without the benefits of commercial radio play or a label behind him, Moakler has benefitted from extraterrestrial radio playing his song "Wheels." As a result of success there, Moakler brought his style of what is called country music these days (it's more apparent on his recording than it is live) to an enthusiastic following. That might be an understatement for one fan, who said after the show that she had seen him about 75 times. She was not joking. Some seemed to know his every lyric.

While Moakler has toured solo acoustic and showed his singer/songwriter side in a Passim gig not so long ago, here, he played more the rocker with a three-piece band of standard drums, bass and lead guitar.

So, while was a standard fare sound-wise to him (the lead guitarist did his job well in filling out the songs), what aided Moakler most was his songwriting. He's perhaps best known for penning "Riser," the title track of a Dierks Bentley album. Moakler also has benefitted from Jake Owen and Eric Church among others recorded his songs.

With four full-length releases and an EP behind him, Moakler's new "Steel Town" CD, which incorporates all five EP songs, emphasizes what makes him a worthy contender. He's happy to show off his roots, but it's not of the farm, truck and good old boy routine.

Moakler paid homage to his hometown with "Steel Town" (to his credit, he wasn't afraid to talk up his hometown team, the Steelers, in Patriots territory) and related how much he enjoyed going to the local bar, "Siddle's Saloon," before launching into the song. His stories seemed real, like he actually had lived them. He's not a performer big on ego, but more in telling a story with introspection.

Yes, he had the songs about the girls as well, including the more commercial "Summer Without Her" and the strong closer to the set of "Love Drunk."

Moakler is the kind of artist for whom persistence has paid off. He has paid his dues, got a break from Sirius radio, which sponsored the tour, but, more importantly, has songs of merit to explain his success. Moakler is the kind of artist, who shows how much the musical terrain has changed in recent years. That's not only to his benefit, but with worthy shows like this, ours.