Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Los Pacaminos - Robin 2 Bilston Friday 26 October 2012

Los Pacaminos. Photo not taken at gig
On the eve of their twentieth anniversary, part time Tex-Mex outfit Los Pacaminos still manage to inject some humour into their live shows by remarking on the difficult second album syndrome. The fact that this seven piece band have only a solitary twelve-track recorded collection of self-penned songs to represent their studio activity is somewhat irrelevant as the true spirit of Los Pacaminos is housed within the sporadic live shows that crop up on a regular basis. Maybe it’s because of the central location or that they’re granted a Friday night party spot, but the Robin 2 in the West Midlands town of Bilston has become a regular stopping off point when the guys decide to get together to perform.

For those unaware of this band, it’s a collaboration of very talented musicians who frequently take a break from their day jobs to indulge in a passion for general American music and, in particular, that originating in the south western states with all the flavour of sounds from across the border. Eighties pop star Paul Young is often portrayed as the face of the band, mainly for promotion purposes, but it’s a fairly egalitarian combination of musicians who list Sir Tom Jones, Queen, Squeeze and Jools Holland as the major acts they are associated with. Fine rock guitarist Jamie Moses generally shares top billing with Young in fronting the band, with acoustic guitarist Drew Barfield providing much of the serious creative input alongside vocals that often outperform his more popular colleagues. The sound of the west is enhanced by Matt Irving’s accordion and keyboard while pedal steel guitar player Melvin Duffy is one of the UK’s most sought after talents. Together with bassist, Steve Greetham and drummer, Mark Pinder, you have a complete band who expertly gives an entertaining and accomplished performance of Tex-Mex music.

Over the course of nearly two and a half hours, the band played a couple of sets that saw them mix a few of their original tracks with a barrage of tunes from not just the Tex-Mex genre, but  sounds that represent blues, soul, rock n’ roll, western swing and general Americana. The opening performance contained ‘Poor Boys’, with Irving on lead, and ‘Shadows on the Rise’ with Barfield delivering the vocals, representing the LOS PACAMINOS album. Jamie Moses excelled with a version of ‘Little Sister’, made famous by Elvis and a highly entertaining cover of the Texas Tornadoes number ‘Better than Nada’. Paul Young, with his vocals unfortunately a shadow of their eighties peak, opened the show with the popular ‘Highway Patrol’ and fronted the Los Pacaminos take on the Merle Travis classic ‘Smoke That Cigarette’.
After the break, more classic songs came fast and furious. The sound headed north to Chicago with a rendition of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s blues number ‘Gangster of Love’ while 1960’s rock ‘n roll smash ‘Come A Little Bit Closer’ encouraged the audience to upgrade from just tapping their toes. Country rock artist Sarah Warren, from the support band, joined the guys on stage to lead the vocals on, what is perhaps the Los Pacaminos signature tune, ‘Raised on Margaritas’. This left just enough time for the usual finale that ensures the fans, both old and new, depart the venue buzzing. The regular closing songs are both true to the heart of the band’s passion for Tex- Mex music, with a cover of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs classic ‘Woolly Bully’ preceding the popular encore dance track ‘La Bamba’, popularised by Richie Valens in the fifties.

Most Los Pacaminos shows, apart from an alternative choice of covers, are a general standard formula with the humour, crowd banter and regular tequila breaks often playing down the sheer quality of the music. That is probably the secret of their longevity as they try not to take themselves too seriously without compromising their artistry. So, long may these seven guys get together to indulge in their passion and we’ll probably forgive them for that never ending wait for a second album.

                                 Studio version of Woolly Bully

Friday, 26 October 2012

My Darling Clementine - Hare and Hounds Kings Heath Birmingham Wednesday 24 October 2012

Lou Dalgleish and Micheal Weston King. Not taken at gig.
“This full band show entertained those present and is something to try and catch during its numerous performances up and down the country.” – Three Chords and the Truth UK July 2012. Nearly four months after briefly mentioning My Darling Clementine in a review of the Maverick Festival, the opportunity finally arose to attend one of their full length shows. In the intervening period since that brief festival introduction to this project, the album HOW DO YOU PLEAD? has been listened to, analysed, praised and ultimately acknowledged that all the hype surrounding the reviews is fully justified and a better UK produced country record certainly doesn’t easily come to mind.
While the theme around the album, and its live rendition, is to hark back to the golden age of country duets, it’s far more than a retro- infused tribute show. With a batch of high quality songs, all possessing a timeless feel to them, the finesse, passion and top quality performance by husband and wife collaborators, Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King, suggest the focus on this type of music should be the future not just the past.

While being unashamedly pretentious in the following comment, this concept album takes you on an emotional journey through a relationship breakdown that in true country tradition doesn’t have a happy ending, although it does fall short of including the ubiquitous killing song. With each track the story meanders along before reaching its inevitable conclusion. Without going into too much detail about it, just obtain a copy and enjoy the listening experience yourself.
So prior to its live airing, the question was pondered ‘Would the album be played in track order?’ Well the answer was, not exactly, and this potentially leaves an opportunity to develop a future show around its narration, a suggestion surely containing some mileage and worthy of consideration. Back to the live show and inevitably the opener, in line with the album, was ‘By a Thread’ and it would be virtually impossible not to close the evening without the emotional and heartfelt concluding track ‘Goodnight Louise’. In between, the healthily-sized audience were served all but one of the album’s eleven other tracks, albeit as indicated not necessarily in recorded order. For information, the poignant song ‘She is Still My Weakness’ was the omitted number but it would be far more positive and relevant to focus on the best of the others.

From such a fabulous collection of songs, it is unfair to single out any individual performance but deserved mentions must go to ‘Going Back To Memphis’ , ‘Put Your Hair Back’ and ‘Departure Lounge’. The first is probably the album’s standout track and, sadly, Michael’s reference to it being a response to Tom T. Hall’s ‘That’s How I Got to Memphis’ passed most of the audience by. Although duet delivery is the format for all of the songs, Lou does take centre stage on the middle of this trio with her own charismatic style and impressive vocals. Finally ‘Departure Lounge’ is also another personal favourite and its introductory reference to Halesowen International Airport had some light-hearted relevance.
To enhance the live experience of My Darling Clementine, the band step aside to allow Lou to demonstrate her keyboard skills with a solo performance of Elvis Costello’s ‘Indoor Fireworks’ and leading off a version of ‘Good Year For The Roses’ before Michael returned to the stage mid-song to renew the duet. Many reviews have referenced the band’s resemblance to other iconic country duet acts, this one is just going to name-check  the original source of ‘Cause I Love You’; the Johnny Cash and June Carter song  performed during the evening, a number they also contributed to a tribute at the Southern Fried Festival in Perth, Scotland. Michael did take time out to preview one of his new songs 'I No Longer Take Pride', which was an indication of an upcoming project.

The evening wouldn’t be complete without a mention to the five piece band that expertly back Lou and Michael. Martin Belmont contributes guitar, Alan Cook on Pedal Steel with Liam Grundy on piano and organ. The rhythm section has Martin Cox on stand up bass and Neil Bullock on percussion. All made valuable contributions to the evening’s entertainment. Also World Unlimited deserve praise for acknowledging the talents of the band, bringing them to Birmingham and being rewarded by switching the show to the Hare and Hounds larger room to house the sizeable audience.

However the evening was all about My Darling Clementine and the much appreciated and vaunted efforts they are making in taking forward the mantle of the wonderful country duet formula. Hopefully this will continue and be built upon in the future.


                             My Darling Clementine - Going Back To Memphis

Monday, 22 October 2012

Random Canyon Growlers - Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham Sunday 21 October 2012

Intimate surroundings of the Kitchen Garden Cafe
After the circulation in the UK of their solitary studio album to date earlier this summer, the delightfully named Random Canyon Growlers have finally hit these shores to promote their brand of old time/bluegrass music. The five-piece band, currently residing in Jackson Hole Wyoming, have immersed themselves totally in the UK Americana/roots scene with a hectic tour that barely allows them a night off during their couple of weeks stay. They certainly made a good selection with their venue choice while stopping off in Birmingham, as the quaint Kitchen Garden Café, with its brickwork acoustics and intimate environment, has hosted many successful and quality evenings of this type of music over the last few years.
The band have undergone a few changes since the recording of …DICKEY AIN’T GOT ALL DAY in 2010 including the moving to pastures new of David McMeekin who contributed a fair amount of original material to this debut release. However founding members Jamie Drysdale (guitar and lead vocals) and Matt Donovan (double bass) are still at the core of the group and, at this moment in time, the quintet is made up of Matt Herron (fiddle), Jon DeGroot (guitar and mandolin) and Brock Benjamin (banjo). Together they are the source of a very tight knit sound that eases through the gear changes of this style of music. While being impeccable interpreters of a sound that has its roots firmly planted in the past, the passion and vibrancy of the guys suggests a healthy future as well.

A major change on the evening for those who first discovered the band via the studio album was the lack of numbers from this sixteen-track record featuring in the two sets performed on the night, delivered as usual to a polite and courteous gathering. Yet the decision made to freshen up their playlist from night to night was fully justified with a consistent stream of well constructed versions of tunes made famous by some of the iconic exponents of bluegrass music. There were covers of Bill Monroe’s ‘My Little Georgia Rose’, the Stanley Brothers’ ‘Little Maggie’, ‘Southbound’ by Doc Watson and ‘Baltimore Johnny’ by the Del McCoury Band. All artists very much at the frontier of the evolution of bluegrass music. The band also paid tribute to some of the modern trailblazers with Jon DeGroot taking over lead vocals for versions of ‘Red Clay Halo’ by Gillian Welch and Steve Earle’s ‘Hometown Blues’, while regular vocalist Jamie Drysdale gave a fine account of ‘Blue Trail of Sorrow’ by Alison Krauss.
With Matt Donovan holding the band together with his rhythmic double bass playing, his namesake colleague, Matt Herron had ample opportunity to showcase his talents with a host of fiddle tunes including ‘Red Prairie Dawn’ and one originating from north of the border ‘Flower of Edinburgh’. The absence of banjo player, Brock Benjamin for the first set is probably best not dwelled upon but his arrival heralded a more complete sound,  added harmonies on numbers such as the self penned ‘Afraid to Go Home’ and led the band in a version of the Bela Fleck instrumental ‘Whitewater’.

Random Canyon Growlers
The value for money near two-hour long show was brought to its conclusion with a final encore version of the popular ‘Country Roads’ which, as expected, saw the invite for some crowd participation actively received. The whole experience was a lot more country than the version introduced to the UK nearly 40 years ago by the controversial CMA Female artist of the year Olivia Newton John.

Hopefully the band will have generated enough interest during this UK trip to warrant a future visit and thus not leave them as an act with a memorable name that we only saw once.


                                          Whitewater - Randon Canyon Growlers

Friday, 19 October 2012

An Acoustic Evening with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin - Birmingham Symphony Hall Thursday 18th October 2012

Shawn Colvin
They may have been compatriots, musical companions and acquaintances for close on thirty years but it is only recently that Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter have taken a step further and combined their talents in a live performance setting. With so much synergy between their styles, and a healthy following this side of the Atlantic, it is of little surprise that this inaugural collaboration is proving a popular appeal to the UK fan base of American acoustic singer-songwriters. This short tour is bringing their ‘An Acoustic Evening with …’ to some of the nation’s established and elaborate venues with the splendid Birmingham Symphony Hall hosting a show in this evolving theatre of modernity. At the conclusion of a near two-hour deliverance of  old, borrowed and new songs the mutual effect of humble gratification circulated around the ‘close to sell-out’ hall.

The striking comparisons are evident in how these two highly acclaimed artists have crafted a vast catalogue of songs that have flittered around the edges of the country and folk music scene as well as the occasional flirtation with mainstream pop. Yet contrasts do exist in the tone of their vocal deliveries in addition to the more polished guitar sound from Carpenter when compared to the edgy and rawer vibes coming from Colvin’s frequently tuned string accompaniment. The egalitarian approach to song selection gave the audience the perfect opportunity to enjoy the contrasts and the healthy applause indicated an evenly distributed praise, although Carpenter probably has the more recent higher profile especially after a successful UK tour a couple of years ago.

Both artists have recently been proactive in the studio and took full opportunity to promote some of this new material for the first time. Highlights from Colvin’s latest release titled ALL FALL DOWN, an album featuring all the hallmark of its producer Buddy Miller, were the title track and ‘Change is on the Way’. As  usual with a Mary Chapin Carpenter release, the moods and personality of the originator is stamped all over the offering and during the evening the audience had the pleasure of listening to ‘Transcendental Reunion’, ‘What To Keep and What To Throw Away’ and ‘Chasing What’s Already Gone’ from her summer release ASHES AND ROSES. New songs are the life blood of a progressive singer-songwriter and, while nostalgia can have its appeal, it’s important such shows don’t descend into clichéd retro-events.
Mary Chapin Carpenter
While on the topic of nostalgia, both artists were highly selective on choices from their back catalogue. Mary Chapin Carpenter opted for popular numbers ‘This Shirt’ and ‘The Hard Way’, while Shawn Colvin particularly impressed with ‘Round of Blues’ and the requested song ‘One Cool Remove’ which was delivered as a duet in the lengthy encore. Apart from the carefully staged solo performances of their songs, the duo occasionally paired up to provide harmonies or straight-up duets. Possibly due to the fairly newness of this venture, not all of these were perfectly synchronised and, to be a little critical, the solo slots outperformed the combined collaborations. This minor criticism could also be extended to the inter-song banter which, while probably sincere, was a touch inconsequential and lacked a little insight. Although Colvin shed some interesting light on her past experiences of playing a supporting slot while on tour with Sting many years ago.

This leads us conveniently onto the duo’s numerous interpretations of some of their favourite singer-songwriter material. Paul Simon’s ‘Only Living Boy in New York’ and ‘Someday’ by Steve Earle represented the States. Neil Finn’s ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ was a selection from down under while, in preparation for an upcoming Liverpool date, a sublime version of the Beatles’ ‘I’ll Be Back’ entertained the audience. The ladies left their best cover until last when they revisited their Nashville influence with an enjoyable version of Merle Haggard’s ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’. A rousing end to a brave venture that may or may not be repeated but did give a rare opportunity for fans to enjoy the talents of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin on a single stage on one evening.

                                          Mary Chapin Carpenter - This Shirt

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tim 'Too Slim' Langford - Broken Halo Underworld Records

It certainly did no harm for Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, so Tim ‘Too Slim’ Langford has passed the first test of blues sainthood with a name deviation. Seriously, the thousands of records he’s shifted as front man of Too Slim and the Tail Draggers has also adhered him to the blues community and now thirteen years after his previous solo release, the time has arrived to indulge again in a little dose of self effacing acoustic blues. With the freedom to roam, Langford, via eleven brand new self-penned tracks, has exerted his creative license on a set of material that is experimental in style without veering too far away from the strict demands of blues connoisseurs. BROKEN HALO is an evolution of guitar diversity that has the potential to engage the wider Americana community to fully justify this rare solo excursion for Langford.
For those who prefer their blues a little less intense, the appealing friendly upbeat sound attached to the title track ‘Broken Halo’ will arouse attention while those with a keen ear to the intrinsic sound of string-based instrumentals will revel in the Hispanic feel to ‘La Llorona’ and to the ukulele that provides a the backdrop to ‘Princeville Serenade’. Langford transports us many miles south east from his Pacific North West roots to the land of the delta with ‘You Hide It Well’ while it’s straight down the middle traditional blues accompanying the personal recollections providing the inspiration for ‘North Dakota Girl’.

The lyrical content of many of the songs highlights the wordsmith talents of Langford and blue is the appropriate colour for the language littering ’40 Watt Bulb’ while ‘Shaking the Cup’ with harmonica backing and stuttering structure will resonate with any struggling artist. The concluding track ‘Gracie’ shows the sentimental and tender side of Langford’s artistry with it being impossible not to feel moved by this account of family memories.
While this release does not stray too far away from the spirit of the blues, the craftsmanship derived from experimenting with a multitude of guitars from dobra to slide coupled with Langford’s ability to construct a song, has created an album with the potential to broaden appeal. Therefore the decision to take a hiatus from the Tail Draggers has been fully justified.  

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Louise Petit - Fear and My Other Friends Self Released

This debut release by Midlands based singer-songwriter Louise Petit is further proof that there is a buoyant and creative scene within the low key music venues throughout the country especially with artists who have the talent and desire to impose their own style on a modern interpretation of traditional music. This five track-recently issued EP has its roots firmly planted in the style of the great American songbook with the simple but effective sounds from an array of acoustic instruments providing perfect synergy with the song construction and writing skills of Louise. The listening journey of FEAR AND MY OTHER FRIENDS may be short but is certainly sweet enough to induce many repeat plays and leave the songs ingrained within your mind.
An integral part of the Louise Petit project is the assembling of a four piece band that support her on the road as well as in the studio and help create a sound that has all the qualities of a timeless recording. On all five tracks, Kevin Reginald Cook plays the double bass, while all drum and percussion duties are undertaken by Tim Heymerdinger. Tracks 2 and 3, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘You Loved Me First’, are enhanced by the guitar and mandolin skills of Tom Manning, while, as well as main vocal duties, Louise effortlessly switches between guitar and the subtle sound of the ukulele. Together, they offer a perfect backdrop to the defining gem of this record, the exceptionally well constructed songs.

‘Love is Pure’ opens the EP with a driving back beat to a number that could easily have been lifted out of the song writing alleys of downtown New York with all the show qualities of such songs. The infectious whistling accompaniment aids the flow of the tune and enhances its toe tapping credentials. The following track ‘Ghosts’ has a haunting introduction which evolves into a slower tempo number defined by the quaint tones of the mandolin and the ukulele. The light percussion and dream-like background harmonies lead us into the third track, a sultry number titled ‘You Loved Me First’ where the topic of eternal love is explored. ‘Demons’ is probably the stand out song from this short selection of tracks. The melodious chorus hook of this song has all the features of a Broadway tune with a jazz-like twist. The EP concludes with a tune that is heavily influenced by the strumming sounds of the variety of string-based instruments used and the highest praise you can offer at the end of ‘A Fading Light’ is to wonder how good a further five tracks to convert this into a full length album could have been.
Hopefully there are further plans for Louise and her band to return to the studio to record some more material and after thoughtful deliberation, the similarities to the sound being produced by American songstress Nell Bryden comes to mind. Only time will tell if Louise emulates the acclaim and recognition of this fine purveyor of Americana music but all the tools and potential are definitely in place.
                                                        Louise Petit -Ghosts

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Grant Langston - Working Until I Die MSG Records

Grant Langston may have had to leave his Alabama home and ultimately head west to pursue his dream of making music for a living but from the evidence of his new album WORKING UNTIL I DIE, he is a shining example that good quality country music is being made outside of Nashville. The lack of big label backing deems the existence of such an artist a constant struggle but with the input from pre-buy backers such as those Langston listed on the cover sleeve, it is a credit to all parties involved that we can savour the fruition of this talented performer.
For this, his 5th studio album, Langston has enlisted the services of producer Paul Q. Kolderie and retreated into a Los Angeles studio to record a collection of songs that represent a diverse cross section of country sounds. With a core band of four musicians supplying a multitude of guitar, banjo, keyboard and percussion input supplemented by session players adding the fiddle and pedal steel, all the essential ingredients of a country record are in place, with the song writing skills, melodies and lyrical content of Langston adding the finishing touches. The resultant product of this creative mixture immerses you into a 45 minute whirlpool of straight down the middle, pure and honest country music which a few of the more commercial acts could do no harm in engaging with.

The opening track of the twelve on offer ‘I Fall For It Every Time’ is a good ole honky tonk number that perfectly sets the tone of what you can expect from the rest of the album and there is a neat interchange of styles and pace that ensures the listening experience remains fresh throughout its duration. The second track ‘Trouble Knows’ has unsurprisingly been earmarked as a song for further promotion, hence the production of a video to support this pop-influenced song that has the potential to reach out beyond the country genre.
The perfect example of how effective the track order is on this record is in the sandwiching of the slow burning ‘Sweet Little Girl’ between the hoedown inspired title track ‘Working Until I Die’ and the hurtling along number ‘Along For A Ride’, both heavily fiddle influenced. The continual experimentation in country sounds is found in the rocking vibes generated from one of the album’s standout tracks ‘Try Me’, an infectious song that inspires many repeat plays. In complete contrast but equally as appealing, the waltz-like rousing anthem ‘Everyone Loves Me When I Am Drunk’ shows an alternative side to Langston song direction containing lyrics with sad undertones. This serious side of Langston’s song writing has come to the fore more on this record than his previous releases and he has acknowledged the effect of the economic meltdown in contributing to this change of direction.

In an album of evolving quality, Langston has captured the perfect moment of peaking at its climax with a wonderful account of putting western pretences in context with a stunning closing track titled ‘Ain’t That Kind Of Cowboy’. This track is pure country gold, dripping in the luxury tone of pedal steel and even allows a little trumpet interlude that in no way dilutes the country sound. Few could argue with the line embracing Merle Haggard ‘as a kind of teacher he wished he had back in school’ and a perfect way to close this highly recommended album. Don’t just take my word, buy the CD, download the tracks and spread the word of Grant Langston.


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Kelly Joe Phelps - Brother Sinner and the Whale Black Hen Music

After the release of his 2009 album WESTERN BELL lead to a mixed response from industry and fans alike, Kelly Joe Phelps withdrew from the spotlight to undertake a period self reflection and evaluation. The conclusion was to hark back to his Christian roots and hone in on developing his song writing skills to complement the undoubted virtuosity of his guitar playing. The result is a revitalised Kelly Joe Phelps and a brand new twelve track album titled BROTHER SINNER AND THE WHALE. Although a citizen of the U.S. and a long term resident of Washington State, Phelps nipped over the border to the studio of Vancouver based producer Steve Dawson to complete this blues tinged spiritual old time gospel recording that is sure to connect well with his fan base.
Throughout his career, which has seen numerous recordings since 1994, Phelps has strived to re-interpret the old jazz, blues and country sounds that form the roots of modern guitar music and his slide and bottleneck playing styles are very much the central feature of the tracks laid out on this new record. Apart from the re-working of the traditional gospel song ‘I’ve Been Converted’, Phelps has contributed the lyrics to all the other tunes except logically the instrumental number ‘Spit Me Outta The Whale.’ With song titles such as ‘Pilgrim’s Reach’, ‘The Holy Spirit Flood’ and ‘Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehova’, you are left in doubt of the subject content of the album.

Kelly Joe Phelps was last seen in the UK as the musical partner of Californian singer songwriter Corrine West. During their live shows he came over as quite an introverted character and this is reflected in the intensity that comes across in the new recording as well as the low key vocal style adorning each track. Whilst it is straightforward to appreciate his technical musical skills, the listening process can be quite a strenuous activity and is certainly something that demands your sole attention. Like so many albums of this nature it is probably best explored in a relaxed mode and, with no real standout songs that plant themselves in your mind, enjoyed in its entirety rather than dipped into. It will certainly be well received by those previously aware of his work and may also leave a positive impression on those who like to experiment with live roots music and venture out to one of his intimate shows coming to the UK in the New Year.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Jason and the Scorchers The Musician Leicester Friday 5 October 2012

Photo by Tony Mottram
Back in 1976, a stale UK rock scene was re-invigorated by the insurgence of punk. Five years later, a similar development was evolving in the world of country rock in the U.S. and, at its core was a four piece band from Nashville led by Jason Ringenberg who had gravitated to music city from his Illinois home in pursuit of musical recognition. The result of this fusion of traditional country, rock and the raw energy of punk saw Jason and the Scorchers adopt the mantle of pioneers in the spawning of another strand of country that would evolve into the emergence of alt-country as an identified movement. Thirty years on, and after decades of industry if not total commercial recognition, the band are commemorating this milestone by including a short tour of the UK in their schedule, where they have a healthy and committed following.
The well established Musician Pub in Leicester was a Midlands stopping off point in the band’s itinerary and an almost sold out gathering of young and old fans alike demonstrated the loyalty that has seen them develop a cult-like status amongst connoisseurs of Americana music. Over the course of the hour and three quarter set, the adoring faithful, some clutching rare vinyl releases awaiting signature, were treated to vintage Scorchers and all the high octane energy that has been the hallmark of one of their live shows. Ringenberg is one of the most sincere artists you come across as a front man of a band and just like thirty years ago during the pioneering days, he shares top billing with master craftsman Warner E Hodges, one of the finest rock guitarists operating out of Nashville. Bassist, Al Collins, the other half of country rocker Stacie Collins, and Swedish drummer Pontus Snibb make up the current quartet. Their onstage chemistry is a quintessential part of a Scorchers live appearance, all co-ordinated by the dedicated passion Ringenberg has for the music he believes in and performs. This is also a feature of his solo shows he brings to the UK and his children’s entertainer re-incarnation as Farmer Jason.

It didn’t take long into the show for Ringenberg to pay homage to his true inspiration, referring to Hank Williams as rock n’ roll’s first great poet before launching the band into a ratcheted up version of ‘Lost Highway’. Throughout the show he displayed his humility to some of the iconic figures of country music when playing a Steve Earle collaboration ‘Bible and Gun’, revisiting an old cover the band did of the Gram Parsons/Roger McGuinn song ‘Drugstore Driving Man’ and delving into his distant recording past following an invited obscure fan request for his take on Faron Young’s ‘Hello Wall’. However these interpretations are only a small part of a Jason and the Scorchers’ gig as for the rest of the evening the crowd were treated to a constant stream of trademark cow punk tunes that have originated from the creative efforts of the band over the past thirty years.
A developing theme of the evening was the affection and pride the band feel for their most recent release 2010’s HALCYON TIMES. Constant references were made to this album and included in the set were ‘Golden Days’, ‘Moonshine Guy’, ‘Better Than This’ (with Hodges taking over lead vocals) and ‘Fear Not Gear Rot’. The band also paid tribute to their late drummer Perry Baggs, who laid the foundation of the song ‘Somewhere Within’ and on this evening current drummer Pontus Snibb stepped forward  to deliver lead vocals for its performance.

The rest of the main set consisted of crowd favourites including ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie’, ‘Last Time Around’ and, what has become the Jason and the Scorchers signature track, ‘Broken Whiskey Glass’, with Ringenberg turning the mic towards the audience for its sing along chorus. One other song that impressed during the evening was ‘Thanks for the Ride’ where the band showed their true appreciation for the support they have enjoyed over the years.
So all that was left was the finale and to fill the band’s two encores there was great delight in the much shouted out popular songs ‘White Lies’ and ‘If Money Talks’, although the third track of their extra stint ‘Crashin’ Down’ from the STILL STANDING album was one of the highlights of an extremely enjoyable and loud evening. No doubt Jason and the rest of the guys would have been in much demand for the after show meet and greet, but for those of us experiencing our inaugural Scorchers live exposure, just the satisfaction of witnessing a performance of one this genre’s great innovators would suffice