Calder Allen wowed the Free At Noon crowd, modernized the classic country sound

From the baby in their baby carrier with hearing protection to the man with his monkey hand puppet, the crowd was extremely receptive to Calder Allen’s country sounds during his first performance of Free at Noon. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Calder Allen has made an impressive selection of songs for taking up nothing but guitar during the COVID pandemic.

At just 19, he got to play at Austin City Limits and has a set scheduled for Lollapalooza in Chicago this summer. In addition, his first album, The game, which was produced by Charlie Sexton of Bob Dylan fame.

Aside from his praise for all he’s accomplished, Allen’s music is equally impressive. His country sound goes beyond the normal “country bro” you might expect from a young artist and modernizes the classic country sound.

During his song “Crush,” the busy drum beats and good taste of picking chicken on TV provided Allen with a country backdrop to sing under his breath about a potential lost lover. Not because of her own action, but because of the way she acted. The ending really hurts your heart with lines like “Well, bye baby; Bye darling ; Farewell my beautiful; I will remember you, that’s what I have to do; I hope you know it kills me too (yeah)” repeated until the end of the song.

Another big highlight was the closing song “Stone” whose grand orchestration and long duration give it an interesting epic rock opera feel. Especially with guitarist Billy Cassis’ multiple solo sections. Repeating his guitar style and playing again was very refreshing and while he wasn’t reinventing the wheel, his playing was exactly what you wanted to hear. The talent of many of these country and Nashville musicians is breathtaking, their dedication to the art of country music allows them to play the songs incredibly well.

If you can’t get enough of Calder Allen today, he’ll also be at Ardmore Music Hall tonight with Don McCloskey + Chris Kasper. The show starts at 8:00 a.m., so hurry to check the WXPN Concerts and Events Schedule for more information.

Toya J. Bell