Sinners, Saints and Friends Party at Petra’s
Friday Folk Night in Charlotte
words by: Steph Cunningham | photos by: Josh Gooch
There is really nothing better than starting the weekend with a great concert; letting go of all the workweek stress and waking up on Saturday morning with some new songs stuck in your head is the perfect lead-in to an awesome weekend. Sinners & Saints, a Charlotte Folk-Rock duo, headlined a great show at Petra’s on Friday night that felt like a party with your best friends.
The show started with two local-ish Folk/Americana acts that warmed up the audience as the crowd in Petra’s grew larger. First up was Vilai Harrington and the Hamptones, of South Carolina. Three of the five members were there for their set: Vilai Harrington on vocals and guitar, Josh Riley on stand-up bass and Ryan Bachman on the Dobro. The band was fun to watch; Harrington is a charismatic frontman, constantly changing positions and telling anecdotes about their songs. Bachman plays his resonator guitar with the strings faced up towards the ceiling, which is distracting in a good way. They definitely suck you in with their catchy songs and great stage presence.
When the next band hopped on stage, we were already familiar with one of the members since she had joined Harrington and crew on stage for a duet. Steph Stewart is one half of Blue Cactus and she has a beautiful voice – twangy, but not pitchy. Her counterpart is Mario Arnez, and together they played some soulful, slower songs. Their calm presence on stage worked well with their amazing harmonies and guitar playing. They’re from Durham, NC, but Stewart told me after their performance that they play about half their shows with Sinners & Saints. No wonder the show felt like being around friends; they are all friends on and off stage.
By the time Sinners & Saints were starting their set, the audience had about doubled. I’ve seen them multiple times and based on the cheering for certain songs and sing-a-longs, clearly most of the crowd were true fans. Between the two band members, Perry Fowler and Mark Baran, they played harmonica, guitar, stand-up bass, two different drums and vocals. Show-offs? Yes. Awesome? Also yes. Their songs are upbeat and the guys are funny. At one point, Fowler asked an employee to turn off the overhead string lights to make the atmosphere “extra sexy.” With the sexy new atmosphere, they ended their show by carrying the stand-up bass and guitar in to the center of the room for their final two songs. The audience loved it, circling around the band while stomping, cheering and singing along.
If you are looking for a great local show and a fun time, all three of these bands are highly recommended. Blue Cactus and Vilai Harrington and the Hamptones are playing together at The White Mule in Columbia, SC tonight. Sinners & Saints have some festival shows scheduled for the Summer and frequently add shows around the Charlotte area.