Thursday, 4 August 2011

Still scorching

After that post about Jason Ringenberg the other day, I trawled You Tube for videos of Jason and the Scorchers in their heyday. I'm reluctant to say that this, their cover of Dylan's Absolutely Sweet Marie,  was their finest moment - there were plenty of great originals on their first two-and-a-half albums - but it was certainly their big attention-grabber, and remains one of my favourite Dylan covers. Warner Hodges' guitar solo still sounds, as Ringenberg put it himself the other night, thermonuclear.

Anyway, I was glad I made the effort to get along to The Musician. It was sauna-like, as you'd expect, but the support act, The Breakdowns, were pretty good in a Wildhearts sort of way, and Jason Ringenberg didn't disappoint at all. He's aged well - there's a bit less hair under the stetson, but he's still positively lanky and has the energy and enthusiasm of an 18-year-old.

A lot of his set was drawn from those early albums - White Lies, Lost Highway, Broken Whisky Glass, Blanket Of Sorrow, Shop It Around and Harvest Moon all made appearances - but there was more recent material too, from his solo albums and from last year's Scorchers reunion album, with Twang Town Blues a highlight. He even played a couple of his Farmer Jason songs - Honky Tonk Maniac From Mars and Moose On The Loose - which left you wondering what on earth the good farmer's primary school-age audience make of it (although, if it means they grow up to be Jason and the Scorchers fans, how can that be a bad thing?).

Throughout it all, he maintained the difficult-to-perfect combination of boundless energy and wry wit that made the Scorchers such a great live act all those years ago, and closed with the afore-mentioned Dylan cover (I'd never seen him do it before).

I bought the recent Scorchers (Halcyon Times) album on the way out, and it's really pretty good, far more in the proto-alt country vein of the early records than the country-metal they got stuck on in the late 80s. A gentleman, as ever, Jason chatted modestly and signed CDs, a true pioneer of what now gets called Americana. I hope he's back soon.


Padhraig Nolan said...

Sounds great. Hmmm, must get to a gig - any gig - one of these days.

Matt Merritt said...

Yeah, that's what I was feeling. And I'd forgotten just what a great venue The Musician is.