Jesse Colin Young
Marion Square
Sept. 27

Music will always be a vehicle for those looking to change the world. This is the preferred method of former Youngbloods singer, Jesse Colin Young.

Bespectacled and lacking the handlebar moustache of his youth, he picked up his ruby-red electric guitar during the Green Fair in Marion Square on Sunday afternoon and launched into a romantic ballad with a soft whisper. The five-piece band consisted of Young on electric guitar, his wife Connie on fiddle, Vito Truglio on acoustic guitar, Mike West on drums, and Mike Frost on six-string bass. Their sound is reminiscent of Graham Parsons, harkening back to the beginning of country-rock.

The next song started out at the same tempo and right when they lulled you into a melancholic stupor, there was a pause, followed by a jagged guitar solo leading into a beefier rock melody. He switched from lovers to homecomings with the song “Carolina.” A folksy tune with a mean fiddle solo, the song’s origins stem from Young’s return to Aiken, after living in Hawaii for 15 years.

Putting down his axe for a moment, he told the crowd about the anger he felt while he was sailing a Hawaiian reef on his Zodiac, discovering an oil can floating in the pristine waters. “Turning Point” addressed people’s apathy toward the environment with a dire tone. “Sanctuary” chided the proposed policy of dumping nuclear waste off the California coast. His cover of Lennon’s “Imagine” was inspired, but hard to place without the piano.

Their Marvin Gaye cover was much more soulful, suiting the band’s style better. He finished his first set with the song everyone had waited for — his 1967 hit “Get Together” — with Young strumming along on a twangy maple guitar.

When the band reappeared he grabbed his carefully tuned ukulele to cover “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” reminding us of his Hawaiian influence. Things went south quickly with a Hank Williams inspired Cajun waltz, bringing young and old to dance in front of the stage. “Love Train” and “T-Bone” slowed the pace down a bit, delivering a raunchy honky-tonk feel.

After the sensual “Sweet Good Times” they made sure to play “Get Together” one last time. His wife Connie called Corey Webb (of Bodies Full of Magic!) on the stage to belt out some backup on the song’s chorus. His voice was just as harmonious as it was during his powerful set two hours earlier. You may not have expected much from a guy known for one song, but his versatility was impressive.