Steamboat Springs “If home is where the heart is, this is my home,” Brent Rowan said before his “A Country Christmas” holiday concert Saturday at The Steamboat Grand. From the reception he received from the ballroom crowd, there was little doubt Steamboat Springs residents consider the legendary Nashville studio guitar player one of their own.
Rowan is an eight-time nominee for CMA’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award and a two-time Academy of Country Music Guitarist of the Year, but to Steamboat locals, he is a warm, fun-loving friend. When I met Rowan for the first time just before Saturday’s concert, it was as if I was sitting down with an old acquaintance. It was those qualities in Rowan that made the concert so enjoyable for attendees. He spoke to me about his love for the Yampa Valley and the people here and about how he hopes one day his own boys will attend school here.
“It’s like I get to invite 400 or 500 of my closest friends into a living room to pass around the guitar or piano,” Rowan said about his Steamboat concerts. “It’s less of a performance and more of a sharing.”
The audience not only got to share Rowan’s love for the valley, it also got to enjoy an entertaining evening of music. By the second song — “80477,” a Steamboat Springs zip code — the audience was smiling and laughing right along with the musician. He spoke to the audience as if each person in the room was an old friend, which created a comfortable, fun atmosphere. The stage was even decorated like a living room during the holidays, complete with a trimmed Christmas tree.
His friends from Nashville made the concert something truly unforgettable. After Rowan performed a few songs and locals favorites, he brought the Scott family on stage. The family includes vocalist/guitartist Lang Scott; his wife and Grammy winning singer/songer writer, Linda Davis; their daughter, Hillary Scott, of Lady Antebellum; and their younger daughter, Rylee.
For the next hour or so, the audience got to see what it would be like to be a part of a music-loving, Southern family overflowing with talent. Hillary Scott and Linda Davis started off their set by singing a duet they co-wrote called “I’m a Lot Like You.” It was a song that any mother and daughter in the crowd could relate to.
For the real classic country music lovers, Lang amazed the crowd with his vocal range as he sang a variety of tunes. Some songs were powerful and sad, while others were laid back. Davis entertained everyone in the audience with bubbly childhood stories about growing up in Texas.
The family played traditional Christmas songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” but Hillary Scott and her father also performed some of Lady Antebellum’s songs, including “I Run To You.” The kids in the crowd even got to run up on stage during the concert to sing “Jingle Bells.” Rylee had her chance to make everyone smile with her alternative verse “dashing through the snows, on a pair of broken skis, o’er the hills we go, crashing into trees.”
Everyone in the audience was excited when longtime local Barb Shipley was called up on stage to sing alongside Linda Davis in the famous duet “Does He Love You.”
The Scott family seemed to love the venue as much as Rowan did. Shortly before the show began, Hillary Scott talked about performing in a smaller setting like the Grand, as opposed to the big stage she often occupies as a member of Lady Antebellum.
“It is refreshing to get off the big stage and have a more intimate feel where it is just about the music. There is something so special about an intimate, acoustic setting,” she said.
The show closed with the family singing “Tender Tennessee Christmas.” It was the perfect way to end the night — mixing Nashville with Steamboat. Rowan previously has said that he had hoped the concert would introduce his Nashville family to his Steamboat family. It was clear to everyone in the audience Saturday night that he did just that.
Kelsey Butler is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School and a reporting intern for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.