The honky-tonk was brought to the Curb Event Center on Feb. 17 for the annual Country/Americana Showcase.
The show highlighted the talents of four Belmont students and their bands: Miles Conner, Chloe Crowder, Maura Streppa and the evening’s champion Maxwell and the Shakes.
Vibrant and energetic, all four acts brought a powerful stage presence with each song, but leading-man Maxwell Sadler was humbled to be named the winner.
“I was just in this trance,” said the senior commercial guitar major. “But mostly I felt really proud. And like I was right where I needed to be.”
Sadler and his shakers sang three original songs including "Mountain Men and Wild Horses."
Co-written by senior songwriting major and backup singer Gloria Anderson, the band performed “Old Friend” and the upbeat closing number “Arizona Red,” which featured the talents of horn players from The Pitch Horns.
With wide eyes and pride, he walked on stage to claim his victory and made it a priority to bring his band along with him.
“I kind of made a big fuss about it and made sure that that I could take my band up with me,” said Sadler.
Anderson admired the way Sadler made sure everyone in the group felt like this win was a team effort rather than a one-man show.
“I feel like he's always thought of the band first,” said Anderson. “I'm just grateful that he gave us a name because it could have easily just been Maxwell Sadler up there.”
2021 Belmont graduate and bassist Max Baker admires the friend he has in Sadler, which is full of appreciation for each other and their craft.
“Working for Max is so helpful because there's mutual respect here,” Baker said.
The showcase was a chance for Sadler to prove to himself that he could take a passion and turn it into a career.
“When you're growing up as a young musician, the idea of going on tour and playing in a band that's successful and plays in front of these big crowds and festivals and headlining tours and stuff, it seems like a dream,” he said. “But then you do something like that and you realize how close it actually is.”
After a few days taking in this news, Sadler said he feels energized and ready to keep working on new and upcoming projects, from singles to shows.
“We have a few goals for the group, and those include some local festivals and local shows,” Sadler said.
At the end of it all, Sadler wants to make good music with good people. He said he loves the song “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson and specifically points out the lyric, “the life I love is making music with my friends.”
With their devotion to music and their love for one another, Maxwell and the Shakes gear up for new projects in the works and have their sights set on the road that leads to the Best of the Best show in April.
“As long as you surround yourself with your friends, everything will be okay,” Sadler said. —
This article was written by Lilly Owens