East Count Californian

East County is full of talent, but sometimes you stumble on an artist that is much more than a musician and great vocalist. And that is what I found playing at the Renegade Country and Western Dance Bar in El Cajon on Saturday night. An entertainer.

When you least expect it, great talent comes your way and you find yourself lucky that you got the chance to see it.

Barbwire, with lead vocalist James Holland knows how to play a crowd as well as his acoustic guitar and his vocals are non-stop dead on. Little known at the time, but now I see why, Holland is the recipient of the 2014 North American Country Music Association International’s Vocalist of the Year and the 2013 West Coast Music Association’s Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year.

Playing nearly non-stop for more than four hours, his variety of cover songs from classic country, new country, some rock-n-roll and a little bit a special in-between, Holland never waivered from his first note to the last. His seamless ability to transition from song to song, especially in a crowd that wants to dance all night long kept the Renegade crowd waltzing, two-steppin’ and shaking the house down with some fast paced stomping line dancing.

Holland had me sold with Clint Black’s “Killin’ Time” and then sent me flying when he had the building shaking with “Sweet Home Alabama.” Especially playing in a dance bar setting, he has the ability to carry a cover song, owning it as he wrote it himself, yet pleasing the crowd with its familiarity. His sweet swoops of old style country swoon you in, while his brassy voice hits you hard and heavy.

Mix a little Bob Seger with a large dose of Hank Williams and mix it up with the originality of Chris LeDoux and you come up with Barbwire. But you have to give a holler to the band with Arnold Madruga on the bass guitar, Mike Brozowski on drums and Blayne Marleaux on lead guitar. They are all accomplished musicians on their own, but together they can steal a show away.

The Renegade is a great venue and surprisingly has great acoustics for a dance bar. It is small enough to be considered a neighborhood bar, yet large enough for a good-sized dance floor, some pool and places to hang out and talk. I was particularly mesmerized with the crowd there. It was a great mixture, some dressed to the nines and others in blue jeans and T-shirts, but what impressed me the most was the age differences. From 21 to close to 90, people of all ages danced together and had a great time and it wasn’t the whiskey doing the talking. It was mostly Holland, as he had just about all of them on the dance floor at one time or another with his expansive gamut of songs he is able to sing. Some of my other favorites of the night were Brooks and Dunn’s “Neon Moon” and Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel.”

Playing together for four years now, Barbwire is a show to see and there are a couple of dates coming up really fast that you can see for yourself at the Bucking Delorian in Lakeside on Aug. 30 and Sept. 20. And by the way, every once in a while, Barbwire has to take a hiatus because by day Holland serves in the US Navy, and by night follows his passion for country music.

To find out other venues and learn a little more about Barbwire visit barbwirecountry.com and check out its upcoming gigs. If you are a lover of live country music, this is a show you want to check out for yourself.

- See more at: http://www.eccalifornian.com/article/there-ain%E2%80%99t-nothing-will-get-your-boots-kicking-getting-tangled-barbwire#sthash.wbHWGf6l.dpuf