Rena Summers: The Sheldon, St. Louis, MO – 7/19/07

On the surface, St. Louis country-rock artist Rena Summers has a lot of things going her way.  She has just released her debut album, It’s All About You, a collection of songs that were mostly written herself.  She has a band that knows how to bring her songs to life, capturing simple and pure energy to complement her vocals. And on this special night, she got to show off her tunes and her band at one of St. Louis’ best venues for intimate, live music: The Sheldon.

It was, indeed, all about her.

Summers’ first show to celebrate her new tunes came off as a party, full of smiling faces and warm hearts.  Although perhaps overwhelmed by adrenaline to begin the show, Summers eventually calmed down and won over the attentive audience with performances of “Connected to You,” “Let Me Be There,” and “One Night at a Time.” A good comparison is a modern-day Liz Phair—Summers doesn’t have the strongest voice around, but is gifted with a spunky attitude and charm to pull off what would otherwise be plain songwriting.

But her band helped make sure that there was nothing plain about this show. Introduced by rhythm guitarist Tom Gerke, Summers’ songs were electrified by lead guitarist Benjamin Cordes, Sean Holland on bass, Tony Cordes on drums, and the steady and soothing sounds of Rob Bernstein on keyboards.  They knew when to keep quiet on the touching “Love Mom,” which featured guest vocal appearances by Summers’ daughters, Olivia and Holly, and had a mini-jam during a cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.” You could only hope that all the smiles on stage were genuine.

It remains to be seen if Summers can build on It’s All About You.  Given time and more shows to build her fan base and stage presence, the best is probably still yet to come.

Photo courtesy of jmonsour photography

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