Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

13Jan/094

Review: Jason and the Scorchers – Beachland Ballroom – 12/31/08

Well hello vinyl citizens!

So it seems that I've been away for a little bit. I'm so behind the blogging 8 ball, I don't know where to begin! Real life has been hogging up large amounts of my precious free time of late. Mother Nature also kindly decided to dump a hella-ton of snow on Cleveland this past weekend (with more on the way!) Shoveling that evil white stuff didn't really leave me with a ton of energy for blogging, and my thoughts kept drifting back to that snowblower I was supposed to buy this summer. I guess that didn't happen!

Today's entry is a guest review from my buddy Kevin, chronicling our New Year's Eve night out at the Beachland Ballroom with Jason and the Scorchers, Stacie Collins, and Cleveland's own Whiskey Daredevils. As the Scorchers took the stage, Kevin leaned over and said "I have to warn you, you're about to see a motherf*cker of a guitar player!"

That night, Scorchers guitarist Warner E. Hodges spun round and round and round leaving me with dizzy good memories the next morning of the perfect New Year's Eve spent with a couple of good friends at the Beachland. As for the show? Well, I'll let Kevin tell you about that one....

Jason and the Scorchers - a vintage shot

A vintage shot...

All hail the kings of cowpunk! The return of Jason and the Scorchers to Cleveland after a ten-year absence was indeed a cause for celebration. Back together on the heels of receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Honors & Awards Show in Nashville, the band rocked in the New Year with a thunderous twang all its own.

Ripping through about 20 songs over two hours, the Scorchers took the Beachland Ballroom crowd on a great ride through their catalog while also bringing the bassist’s wife onstage for a few songs, dazzling the audience with a rumbling version of “Auld Lang Syne” complete with Jason on Gaelic lyrics, asking everyone to vote for their favorite Scorchers album, and showing why they are true pioneers worthy of their recent recognition.

While Jason doesn’t prowl the stage and create the I’m-about-to-jump-out-of-my-skin type of frenzy that he used to, his calmer demeanor reflects a complete command of the band’s material and also its legacy. As a performer, he combines the genuine everyman appeal of country legends such as Hank Williams and Porter Wagoner with the urgency of his punk contemporaries of the 70s and 80s who brought it hard, fast and loud because they could.

The gunslinger in this group is ace guitarist Warner Hodges, whose patented over-the-shoulder guitar whip is still as awesome as his playing. His versatility was on full display as he produced beautiful country-western tones that would shake the ghosts of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins right alongside roaring blasts of rock and roll that just kept coming like a train.

Replacing original members Jeff Johnson and drummer Perry Baggs on bass and drums are former Clevelander Al Collins, husband of singer Stacie Collins whose latest album was produced by former Georgia Satellites frontman Dan Baird, and Fenner Castner, who has recorded with Bill Lloyd and Tommy Womack among others.

Opening with a hammering take on “I Can’t Help Myself” from the band’s debut EP “Fervor,” the early years were well-represented by “Last Time Around,” “White Lies,” the so-classic-Dylan-could-have-written-it “Pray For Me Mama, I’m a Gypsy Now,” and a stunning version of “Both Sides of the Line” featuring the wizardry of Hodges.

Two songs from the undeservedly-overlooked album “Thunder and Fire,” which preceded the first breakup of the band, were pleasant surprises. “Find You” rocked just like it did 20 years when it somehow missed heavy rotation on MTV. Jason told a funny story before “When the Angels Cry” about his co-writer on the song, Grammy-Award winner Don Schlitz, who commented that he liked working with Jason because he “didn’t have to be commercial.” If that doesn’t about say it all.

Getting back to the bassist’s wife, Stacie Collins joined the Scorchers onstage for a few songs including a throwdown on Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” and Jason’s own ode to true love, “200 Proof Lovin’” from 1995’s “A Blazing Grace.” Stacie is the real deal, a honky-tonk queen who can belt it out and back it up with some big chops on harmonica. Make it a point to see her live.

Jason and Warner took center stage alone for a few tunes, the highlight being a hauntingly stark rendition of “Jeremy’s Glory” from “Clear Impetuous Morning.” This was the point in the show when the Scorchers rookies in attendance had all doubt removed and realized the company they were in.

The night moved into overdrive as Warner beat his guitar to the opening strains of the John Denver million-seller “Take Me Home Country Roads.” Rarely has a song been so right for a band and rarely has a song been as transformed as it was in the hands of Hodges.

Closing with a fury that included their all-time classic “Broken Whiskey Glass,” the Scorchers showed why they still matter and that there still may be something for them to say. If not and this is all there is, it was a great way for them to bring closure to their Cleveland fans.

If they continue to perform together and end up doing more gigs this year, be sure you take the time to see the Scorchers. A great American singer and songwriter, a living guitar legend and a rhythm section that won’t quit all add up to one hot time in whatever town you’re in.

Kudos to Cindy Barber for jumping on the moment and bringing this legendary American band to Cleveland. Please patronize the Beachland whenever possible. It is a great club bringing a wonderful variety of music to our area.

Closing Comments from The Editor:

It's worth noting that Greg Miller and his Whiskey Daredevils kicked all sorts of ass as per usual. They were the perfect opening band for the evening! Miller led the band through a rip-roaring set with bullet mic in hand, while offering a recollection of a previous night onstage long ago with Jason and the Scorchers at Wilberts. Whiskey Daredevils are one of those bands that are always a pleasant surprise if I see them listed in the opening slot on a show that I am planning on attending.

Additional kudos go out to the Beachland folks who really pulled out the stops for New Year's Eve spinning vintage 45s before the show and in between bands, a nice change of pace from the usual canned classic rock you might hear as pre-show music at other clubs. With complimentary champagne at midnight, noisemakers, and other traditional NYE items, they covered all of the bases to make sure it would be a special New Year's Eve for all in attendance.

And P.S. - Thanks to Kevin for the great review above! I'm looking forward to catching another rock show soon.....although I guess it won't be The Godfathers.... :-(

Relevant Links:

Beachland Ballroom official website

Visit www.jasonringenberg.com for Scorchers info and merchandise as well as Jason Ringenberg solo material.

Visit http://www.mohawkvisuals.com/warnerhodges/index.htm for information on projects involving Warner Hodges including Dan Baird’s Homemade Sin.

Visit http://www.staciecollins.com for information about Stacie Collins.

Whiskey Daredevils official website

  • http://toomuchcountry.blogspot.com toomuchcountry

    Great review. Now make my day by telling me the show was recorded and will be offered soon – trade, DL, Dime, etc.

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