While a great studio album is a plus, the true artist is one whose live show equals or exceeds their studio release. A great live album captures that raw energy like no studio album can. Our three nominees for this category have successful captured the fun and experience of watching them live, with excellent results.
Jesse Thomas - Live at Infrasonic Studios - I missed this album when I announced my nominees, but once I found out about it I could not ignore it. Thomas gives her original tunes new life in her first live album, and has released a very worthy effort.
Justin Hopkins - This Could Happen Anywhere - You probably never heard of Hopkins until he appeared on NBC's The Voice during Season 2, despite the fact that he has been playing shows around LA for quite a few years. His battle round against Tony Vincent as they sang Journey's classic hit, Faithfully was epic. Despite his loss, Hopkins has been on the move ever since, and recently completed a tour with Team Adam's champion, Tony Lucca. Hopkins first live effort may be his last solo effort for a while, as Hopkins has plans for a new group project. His live album should definitely be on your list - and is worthy of more than one listening session.
Keaton Simons - Nowhere to Hide (Live at the Jungle Room) - Simons is another artist that has been playing around the LA circuit, as well as cross-country, for several years. Despite releases on two major labels, he truly came to the country's notice while appearing as a guest with his step-dad, Eric Roberts, on Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab. Even though his songs have been heard on almost every show currently running on CBS, his live version of Beautiful Pain, which was featured on Rehab truly put Simons the artist in the spotlight. This album captures much of the excitement and joy of his live show, and accurately portrays my experience attending the recording session. Watch for Simons' first release on his own label, Beautiful Pain, to be released later this spring.
And the winner is . . . KEATON SIMONS - Nowhere to Hide. A full review of the album will be published after NAMM.