Towards the end of this gig, further light was shed on the sold out signs The Oobleck had posted the day before as frontman Jaren Johnston thanked the Classic Rock Mag for electing The Cadillac Three as the Best New Band thus fuelling his desire to further foster a relationship with fans over here. While there may be a growing band of followers attracted to the Nashville based trio via their country music connection, this audience was almost in unison in riding the rock crest of a wave. In truth, The Cadillac Three were just being themselves, partying hard, rejoicing their southern roots and sailing very much on the mainstream country ticket of stealing a march into the territory of white young rock fans. This is a style they excel at and fiercely engage with their target audience.
Having seen the trio of Jaren joined by Neil Mason (drums) and Kelby Ray (lap steel) support Eric Church on his UK tour in March, there was little mystery to the style of merry music making inspired by a heavy beat and an undiluted dose of southern rock, but this evening the extended set, and ensuing spotlight, led to far more posturing and a touch of Big and Rich antics, albeit no guitars were set alight. With just their sole album, TENNESSEE MOJO, to call from, the guys strung out a near hour and a quarter set to the delight of those present. The packed crowd were close to reciting the lyrics near word by word and submissive in adulation to Jaren’s every beck and call.
Due to not approaching country music from a classic rock background, the style of The Cadillac Three is always going to be on the peripheral of the genre for me. Outlaw status is one the band would surely crave, as outlined on Neil’s tee-shirt baring four synonymous first names in Waylon, Kris, Johnny and Willie, but can that tag be applied to an artist core to Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label? Needless to say, the band do have that innate ability to entertain whether pleading ‘I’m Southern’ in the opening track to hailing ‘The South’ in an extended encore. The interim was highlighted by excellent live versions of ‘Down to the River’ and ‘White Lightning’. Of course ‘Whiskey Soaked Redemption’ was serenaded by a bottle of JD and once again thoughts crossed my mind of introducing these Americans to some serious single malt Highland distilleries to enlighten their take on the drink.
Regardless of whether The Cadillac Three are your cup of tea (or tipple of choice), they are relevant to the sound and direction of some of Nashville’s mainstream output .They are steeply enamoured in southern folklore and certainly worth catching if they are passing through your town. On this evening the band couldn’t resist the clichéd comparison of Birmingham UK with Birmingham Alabama but they were welcome visitors and subject to some Brummie hospitality. Now if only there was a little more twang from Kelby’s lap steel…..