Elizabeth CookElizabeth Cook's concert just outside Richmond, Va., this week was so crowded that servers couldn't keep pace with customers' food and drink orders.

"They're up to their a--es in alligators," said a manager at the Ashland, Va. club -- who was too busy waiting on customers during the May 19 show to give his name -- when asked about servers' workloads. "This is the biggest crowd we ever had on a Wednesday night. We weren't expecting this."

It's fair to say it was a night of surprises for the audience, too.

Right from the moment Elizabeth stepped on stage with her husband-guitarist Tim Carroll and upright bass player Bones Hillman, formerly of Midnight Oil, electricity crackled through the crowd. As the trio kicked off its two-part set with a rollicking rendition of 'All the Time' -- the first song on Elizabeth's just-released Don Was-produced CD 'Welder' -- the crowd grew increasingly jubilant.

The joy grew as Elizabeth moved through other 'Welder' songs, including 'Yes to Booty' and 'Rock N Roll Man,' as well as her classics 'Dolly' and 'Girlfriend Tonight.' Interspersed throughout the set were a few somber turns, like 'Heroin Addict Sister' and 'Mama's Funeral' -- both from the May 11 'Welder' release -- that had several audience members close to tears.

It wasn't just the heartfelt music, but Elizabeth herself that charmed the audience. Telling an array of stories and offering comments on everything from her parents -- "My mom would be so proud of all the applause" Elizabeth said after playing a song written by her late mother Joyce Cook -- to the strand of green lights draped across the front of the stage that Elizabeth called "our big light show," to her appreciation of the audience for coming out on a Wednesday night when 'American Idol' was on television.

"I don't know if lightening struck or what," Elizabeth told The Boot about the positive, early buzz surrounding 'Welder.' "I am really, really, really lucky right now that I have music that is on my terms. I am grateful for anybody who comes out to see me."

Even though Elizabeth, who grew up one of 11 children in rural Florida, had a major record label deal several years ago, she asked to be let out of it in order to further develop her craft.

"There were a ton of circumstances. It was the universe. It wasn't the evil record company," she says. "I was just quirky and off kilter and the industry was starting to implode and people were losing their jobs. It was many many factors... I just wanted to see where I could land. I didn't feel confident that I could deliver them what they needed."

As Elizabeth closed out her almost two-hour concert by talking about her weekday morning Sirius radio show 'Apron Strings,' and singing the hit 'Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman,' she apologized to the crowd for a head cold that she said weakened her vocals.

"You sound great!" an audience member yelled back, prompting the rest of the crowd to cheer in agreement.

The remainder of Elizabeth's tour dates are scheduled through August 28 in Morning View, Ky. For a complete list, check her website.

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