My girl Haley Reinhart performed with her family band "Midnight" at the Buffalo Grove Days music festival near her hometown of Wheeling, Illinois last night. I wasn't there (it's a bit far from South Florida), but many of her most devoted fans (Haliens) from far and wide were in attendance, and generously uploaded videos of several performances from her set.
Now, I know what some people are thinking. I've read it on message boards and twitter, and it goes something like this: "Performing with her parents at small, local summer festival? What the hell happened to her. This is nothing to write about, it's just pathetic."
Well, pardon my French, but fuck you. You're making a snap judgment about her and this gig without knowing what the fuck you're talking about, so STFU and GTFO, you hateful, spiteful, negative, nasty, worthless piece of shit.
Too much? Sue me.
Haley's family band unquestionably brings out the best in her. Better than Casey, better than her other full band incarnations, better than the Idol band, and better than everything else she's done with a band, period, end of story.
Why was she so good with them? What made it different or special? It goes beyond nurture and love, also has a lot to do with rehearsal, repetition and preparation.
Haley's parents have had their own band for over 30 years, and are consummate professionals. Her father, Harry, is an expert blues rock guitarist whose musical influence on Haley cannot be overstated. Her mother, Patti, has always been the lead vocalist of the band, and inspired her incredibly talented and gorgeous daughter to follow the same career path. Even little sister Angie got in on the act, singing backup and no doubt providing comfort to her big sis. With this family support, Haley has been able to take her natural gifts to incredible highs, and that was evidenced by the brilliant show at The Grove.
To consistently gel and perform at the top of her game with confidence, Haley, like everyone else, needs practice and discipline. However, being free spirited by nature, she often seems to procrastinate and rely on talent to bail her out. Because of this, she's had mixed results on stage, at times looking like a star, and others appearing awkward, flustered and prone to gaffs. Only when performing jazz, a genre that rewards improvisation, and is her natural vocal element, has she been able to find comfort zone and get lost in the music.
That all changed at the Grove. She was a pro. She sounded great. She had confidence. She was prepared. She knew the cues. She knew the words. She knew her shit. That released her to be Haley at her very best, because she didn't have to think too much. She just let loose, trusted herself, trusted the band, and it really helped restore my belief in her that she has what it takes to become a highly respected artist in the music world.
Contrast that when Haley performs with her BFF Casey. While I love the chemistry they perform with together, and enjoy that she has fun on stage with him, and like the jazzy musical influence he provides, she frequently seems like she's joking around and winging it with him on stage instead of digging in and delivering like a pro. Fun on stage is great when it's about getting lost in the music and jamming out, and sometimes they have that, but when they don't it's a distraction that can make her appear unprofessional.
Look, I think Casey is a great guy, a great friend, and a great musician, but he seems equally free spirited and unstructured, and I don't think that helps Haley. I really dig them together in doses, but not as a career path.
The ideal scenario for Haley is finding a team around her that gives her the necessary nurturing, structure and discipline she needs to be great. A small label that's very hands on would help. Until that time, maybe she should do some touring with her parents band. She badly needs to gig more, so how about Haley and The Reinharts hit the road, Jack? Not sure if that's doable financially, but Haley really thrives with them, so why not?
RECAP: Great show, great band, and Haley proved without a doubt that she's the real deal with star power when in the right environment. Below is the video of her new song "Better", which she debuted at the concert. I seriously dig it, especially the a Capella intro and intense finish, and think you'll see what I mean about the killer job Haley and the Reinharts delivered gigging at the Grove. Let it loop and you'll get to enjoy a full playlist of Haley music from HaleysTusk, a superfan who has become Haley's unofficial videographer.