AHI | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN
Nashville singer-songwriter AHI brings observational songs and engaging stories to Boot & Saddle
Nashville resident AHI (pronounced “eye”) is a singer and a songwriter but also a storyteller. His headlining show at Boot & Saddle last week built on his heartrending songs with anecdotes about life, love, travel, and fashion.
The night opened with the “Man in White” Randy Scott Carroll, a recent transplant to Philly, whose sincere country-folk evoked a feeling of a young Johnny Cash at the height of his collaborations with Shel Silverstein. His first song, a slow twangy guitar solo, proved that he could keep the crowd engaged with a guitar alone, while his second song “My Father’s My Hero But He Ain’t My Friend,” which chronicles his tumultuous relationship with his religious father, proved him an adept storyteller. After a conversation with a member of the audience about how her brother has the same relationship with their father, Randy was joined on stage by Seth Aaron to add harmonies to “Call Me If You Need Me,” followed by a heartfelt solo “The One That Kept My Heart.”
The audience, feeling the spirit of harmony move them, was more than willing to accompany Randy on “Tennessee Whiskey” a cover made popular by George Jones, followed by an original, “I’m on Fire” to close out his set.
After a short break, AHI took the stage. In between songs, he talked about his cross-country Canadian trip with VIA Rail’s Artist on Board program, which provides free room and board for performing musicians to travel by train. The song “The Architect’s Hand” is a direct product of that trip and a somewhat pushy young mans $900 proposition for AHI to write a song for his adult masseuse girlfriend.
Another story that AHI likes to tell on stage is of moving from Canada to Nashville. “Prior to going to Nashville I was writing songs, after coming back from Nashville I became a songwriter.” Since he always wears all black, he decided to spice up his wardrobe with the move by buying a “Black Rodeo Cowboy Hat” online and was surprised to find what is now his signature hat.
Supported on stage by Stu Weinberg on guitar, Evan Porter on bass, and Shawn Killaly on drums, AHI’s setlist was a mix of his current album In Our Time and last year’s We Made It Through the Wreckage. The night ended with a gritty, soulful version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” which AHI sings to close each set. “I would trade all my songs to have written this one song.”
Closer (From a Distance)
The Acrhitect’s Hand
We Made It Home
On My Side
Ol Sweet Day
A Change Gonna Come