Wednesday, 27 July 2011

King of cowpunk

There's no surer sign of middle age sinking its false teeth into you than realising that you can't remember the last time you went to a gig. I'm thinking that it was about two years ago, at least.

Fortunately, help is at hand, as a quick scan of The Musician's website earlier today revealed that cowpunk legend Jason Ringenberg is in town once again. So, that's my Tuesday night sorted.

Ringenberg was the front man of Jason and the Scorchers, who, back in the early 80s, were briefly bracketed with the likes of REM as the Next Big Things from the USA. You have a pretty good idea of what's happened since - Michael Stipe and band went on to world domination, while Jason and his boys faded into near-oblivion. That was a shame, because their foot-to-the-floor brand of country rock (more like The Ramones backing Merle Haggard than The Eagles harmonising blandly) was a breath of fresh air in the Spandau Ballet and Kajagoogoo-bedevilled landscape of the mid-80s. Their first mini-album, Fervor, was an absolute blast, with a great cover of Dylan's Absolutely Sweet Marie, and their next two albums were in much the same vein.

Ringenberg now pursues a schizophrenic solo career, performing children's songs as Farmer Jason, and bashing his way through new material and some old classics at gigs like next week's. And The Musician is a great venue, however unpromising its location tucked away down a side street just off the ring road. Last time I saw Ringenberg there, he ended the night playing a couple of songs standing on the bar. I'd settle for that sort of night again.


Padhraig Nolan said...

They did a great live version of Poke Salad Annie, if I remember rightly - though I'm damned if I can remember where I heard it? Some record label compilation maybe?

Matt Merritt said...

Yes, they did - I haven't got it on record anywhere, but I heard them do it sometime in the late 80s (think it was at Rock City in Nottingham), and I've also heard a live version on the radio sometime (on Bob Harris's show, I expect).