From Aug. 25 to Aug. 27, I was in Minneapolis attending a fan convention centered on the CW television series Supernatural. I won’t go into detail about everything that the conventions consist of, nor will I talk about my time there – I could probably write an entire newspaper’s worth of content with everything I’d want to say – but I will make mention of one of the more popular events that occurs during every Supernatural convention: Saturday Night Special.
Saturday Night Special is a concert that the Supernatural convention’s house band, Louden Swain performs on Saturday evening of every convention weekend. Louden Swain is an indie rock group formed by Rob Benedict (lead vocals/guitar), Billy Moran (lead guitar), Stephen Norton (drums), and Michael Borja (bass). While Louden Swain is the main focus of the night, they are always joined on stage by other cast members of Supernatural to bring forth a live musical performance that holds a mixture of both original songs and covers of popular music.
On Friday, Aug. 25, Louden Swain released their first live album, suitably titled Saturday Night Special. The album consists of fifteen tracks, each of which are songs that were captured from various Saturday Night Specials at conventions between November 2015 and March 2017. The album runs for an hour and three minutes. Within this particular album, Louden Swain was joined by the following cast members of the show: Jensen Ackles, Richard Speight Jr., Kim Rhodes, Brianna Buckmaster, Matt Cohen, Gil McKinney, Osric Chau, and Ruth Connell.
Saturday Night Special is a collection of snapshots of previous SNS events hosted across the United States, so it serves as an example of several performances that the band and cast gave throughout the years, rather than portraying an exact replication of how each SNS runs. Several different types of genres and music styles appear within Saturday Night Special, so it has something for everyone to enjoy. Kim Rhodes’ cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” made me want to dance and sing along, Gil McKinney’s rendition of “Let It Be Me” by Ray LaMontagne was a beautiful and calm follow up, and Ruth Connell’s performance of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” by Nancy Sinatra added an air of sultriness to the collection.
Supernatural lead Jensen Ackles, who occasionally attends SNS and is always a favorite to have at the concerts, belted out a strong execution of “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band. All the while, Louden Swain is rocking on behind the cast’s vocals. Along with the songs done by the cast, Louden Swain performed a few original songs of their own, such as “Eskimo” and “Bandaged Hand.”
One of the most noteworthy songs included in the album is “She Waits,” an original song written by lead singer Rob Benedict. Performed at every SNS concert, “She Waits” is an emotionally charged piece that is focused on Benedict’s father, how he left Benedict’s family at a young age and his mother’s response to it.
Another significant song in Saturday Night Special is “Fare Thee Well.” This song instantly became a fan favorite after Benedict performed it in an episode of Supernatural’s eleventh season, during which he returned to reprise his role as Chuck Shurley/God.
Saturday Night Special inspires its audience to get involved in the concert in a manner past that of the band and cast coaxing them to “make some noise” or clap their hands to the beat. For example, at every SNS, fans of Supernatural and Louden Swain will organize a plastic, candle-lit vigil for Benedict as he sings “She Waits.” After listening to the track and hearing Benedict’s explanation prior to the song, it’s not hard to see why. The Saturday Night Special album as a whole is a wonderful blend between putting forth professional music and a group of good friends having an amazing time together. I would highly recommend everyone giving this album a listen for Louden Swain’s fun take of popular and classic songs and for their original tunes that have long-inspired, loving fandom.