Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project Show Review
Ed Roland has been the heart and soul of the legendary rock band Collective Soul for the past eighteen years. He’s now embarked on an intriguing side effort, The Sweet Tea Project, and sounding better than ever. Roland and his band-mates hail from Atlanta, Georgia and had been playing Peach City extensively over the past few months, before kicking off their tour at Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions.
Many in the crowd came expecting a Collective Soul show but were pleasantly surprised with the entertaining and fun set offered up by Roland and friends. Their music is a totally different take than Collective Soul, featuring a smooth, laid back folksy rock sound with a slight country vibe. It’s a refreshing new path for Roland, and an excellent show.
The line-up featured three guitarists, a bass player and drummer; pleasantly devoid of the synthesizers that dominate today’s new rock landscape. In short it was a nice old school approach with a fresh new sound. Although this is the first stop on their tour, the band was sharp and seemed totally cohesive throughout the show.
They kicked the set off with a rocking version of “Stomp” featuring lyrics that captured the band’s vibe: “Soak up summer… that sweet southern shine.” Throughout the set, Roland was clearly the focal point, yet all of the other band members took turns in the spotlight, and shared vocal responsibilities. He was extremely in the spotlight and interacted with the packed crowd all night.
The first hour plus was focused on the new music of The Sweet Tea Project, and a few of the fans got a bit antsy for the Collective Soul hits. But Roland and the band were quickly winning over the house and having an absolute blast playing their tunes and interacting with the fans. At one time offering “If it wasn’t different it would be fuckin’ Collective Soul up here.”
There were a few nice twists thrown in, as well. After sharing how influential Johnny Cash was to him, Roland kicked off a rollicking version of “Devils and Darlins” that morphed perfectly into Cash”s classic “Folsom Prison Blues.” They dedicated a song to folks in the military that was powered by heavy audience participation and later in the show offered up a few Lynyrd Skynyrd tidbits. When a fan shouted out “Freebird,” Roland and the band threw out a spontaneous three minute snippet of the rock anthem. Cool stuff!
They then closed with a nice collection of Collective Soul tracks, but creatively, each was performed with a Sweet Tea Project spin, and again it worked extremely well, highlighted by “December,” “Gel” and killer versions of “Shine and The World I Know.” A great end to a fantastic show.
If this band is in your area, it’s a can’t miss show, with or without the Collective Soul tracks.
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We strongly suggest you check out Elise Rossi’s interview with Ed Roland on the WMMO website.