By COREY HOWELL
Arts and Entertainment Editor
The night of Feb. 21, 2013 was a cold one. Sleet was pouring out of the sky, and tucked away on the bottom floor of the Cralle Student Center, affectionately known as the Grille, the campus radio station, WRVG, was preparing to put on the inaugural event of what they hope will be a long running concert series titled Third Thursday.
As the crowd gathered, the smooth sounds of Jared Colvin’s electric guitar saturated the air. Jared opened the evening with an original composition on his acoustic guitar. Though he only played the one song, with the accompaniment of Flint McCallum on cajón, Jared’s instrumental piece emanated a laidback, mellow vibe that setup the night’s mood perfectly.
When Jared had finished, the headlining act was introduced. Joining McCallum, the titular “& Co.” of Wes Smith & Co., was Wes Smith himself. Decked out in jeans, a white long-sleeve shirt and a “Gone Squatchin’” trucker hat pulled over his long, blonde locks, Smith exuded laidback charisma and down-home charm.
Beginning with the Old Crow Medicine Show and Bob Dylan co-authored “Wagon Wheel,” it was clear that it wasn’t just Smith’s charisma that would captivate the audience’s attention. Smith’s voice, a combination of strength and confidence tinged with Southern twang, and the ease with which it came galloping out of the singer’s mouth like pure breeds at the Kentucky Horse Park, provided a blast of summer on the cold winter night.
As the night progressed, Smith & Co. serenaded the audience with a mix of original tunes and well-known favorites from as varied artists as the Killers and Hank Williams Jr. Through it all, however, the theme that seemed to pervade was that of love. From Smith’s own quick and upbeat “What Can I Say” to James Taylor’s thoughtful classic “Carolina in My Mind,” though the subjects of the love varied, the sense of affection that filled the room only a few weeks after Valentine’s Day was undeniable.
Because whether it was Jared plucking dream-like instrumental pieces on his electric guitar, Flint providing a magnificent variety of what appeared to be mostly, if not completely, improvised rhythms or Wes Smith blowing kisses to the crowd and singing “My Girl” by the Temptations, the crowd was in love. And on a night where the wind was howling and ice was falling from the sky, a little warm-hearted love was just what the doctor ordered.