Show Reviews



Saturday September 30, 2023

@ Musicians Corner (Centennial Park) in Nashville, TN

(Review Written By: Jeffrey Kurtis)

For the past 13 years now, Musicians Corner has offered a wide range of sonic styles through the over 1500 acts who have graced their stage in beautiful Centennial Park, aptly providing one space that has become a bold showcase of the very reason that Nashville is called Music City.

While they’ve certainly spanned genres within their seasonal lineup’s, their stage has welcomed many acclaimed, award-winning names of the country, bluegrass, and Americana music communities including (but not limited to) Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Margo Price, Nikki Lane, Elizabeth Cook, Holly Williams, and Julie Roberts.

On this final Saturday of the Fall 2023 season, Striking Matches hit the stage in the late afternoon in front of a very receptive crowd with a blending of crisp harmony and a sound that fluidly walked the borders of singer-songwriter tilted country, rock, and blues.

Comprised of Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis, the duo initially struck as songwriters when they landed several cuts on the popular television program Nashville, but they’ve certainly stacked their original path with a catalog of great song after great song ever since.

Hot off their Americana Fest debut and armed with acoustic guitars, incredible songwriting, and soaring harmonies dripped in Zimmerman’s fiery slide guitar, the duo used their timeslot on this beautiful afternoon as an undeniable spotlight of all the signature reasons why they’re one of the most renowned of today’s roots music circuit.

Coming together face to face at center stage, draped by the strum of each guitar to instantly introduce their twang infused bluesy edge and hints of rowdiness, they blasted into their set with the toe-tapping, guitar fueled “Retrograde,” immediately inciting a clap along as shoulder dancing commenced across the crowd while Justin and Sarah smacked their voices over the groove laden rhythm to strike their harmony punch, later stunning the crowd to a listening room silence midway through the song as several closed their eyes to soak in the magical moment as the stellar guitar picking swirled and pulled them in deeper.

Staying put on an irresistible rhythm, they expertly kept the crowd in the pocket of the groove laden swampiness of “Six String Baby,” which saw Justin adding his smooth vocal touch to the first verse in the lead position, before Sarah took over the second with a raspy flare to add a back and forth, give and take dynamic to the power hit of the flirtatious love song. 

“This next one is about missing home, and it’s probably the closest thing that we’ve written to a bluegrass, fiddle song,” Davis mused as their harmonies blended once again to continue captivating the audience over the softness of the intro before they drove straight into the heartbeat of the bluegrass knocking vibe of “Appalachia.”

“We’ve been working on a new record,” Zimmerman excitedly said as the crowd met the announcement with a solid cheer of anticipation. “The pandemic and the whole shut down really gave us a chance to figure out who we are and what we wanted to be, and a lot of the songs we’ve written are about us. But I wrote this next one when I was mad…not mad at Justin, though!” she explained with smile as she slid her tone into an intriguing spitefulness as the bluesy country aura of “Don’t Take It Out On Me” allowed her to punch her vocals through their range, stamping her foot through the finger pointing confidence embedded into the angry fuel of the song as Justin’s guitar licks soared in perfect accompaniment.

Softening the pace for the first time of their set, a very moody cover of The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” took the ultra-familiar into a territory that allowed each to find their own unique individuality within the classic hit, giving the song an extremely fresh feel that made it completely their own as they transported the crowd to the late 1960’s with a time worn essence that perfectly balanced on as much modern touches as it did the undeniable sounds of the psychedelic era.

Longtime fan favorite “Tell Me So,” which initially appeared on their very first EP and has been rejuvenated for their upcoming album, tenderly allowed Zimmerman to open their diary as she trailed through the emotional turns of falling and wanting to know everything about the person who’s holding your heart, from the simple things like favorite love songs and their middle name to the more complex things like their deepest secrets.

“Justin and I had nine songs on the TV show Nashville, which was really cool,” humbly shared Zimmerman. “But some of those songs were really special to us and so we put them on our Nothing But The Silence record,” she introduced as they stayed on the tender softness of falling in love, hushing the crowd with the emotionally painted “When The Right One Comes Along.”

“Justin and I met over at Belmont University…we didn’t graduate, but met in guitar class there,” Sarah laughed. “We got paired up to play together in class one day and Justin asked me if I knew any blues? And well….we’ve been playing the blues ever since,” she finished with a shrug as they gripped the crowd with an outstanding cover of Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads,” allowing Justin to first tackle the leads and impressively dip his voice into its lower register while slowly escalating to his higher notations in an unbridled showing of his impressive range, before Sarah would strike a growl amongst the guitar licks that slammed over the music loving crowd as an inspired clap along rousingly took over Centennial Park’s hottest corner.

After gratefully thanking the crowd for coming out and Musicians Corner for welcoming them back, they closed their hour long set by bookending it with a groove laden rhythm akin to how they opened, taking the crowd on one last journey through their perfect blending of sounds on “Make A Liar Out Of Me,” leaving a strong lasting impression as the final notes of their early smash were strummed to a strong ovation from the ultra-enthused crowd.


1) Retrograde

2) Six String Baby

3) Appalachia

4) Don’t Take It Out On Me

5) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles cover)

6) Tell Me So

7) When The Right One Comes Along

8) Crossroads (Eric Clapton cover)

9) Make A Liar Out Of Me



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