Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jimbo Mathus And The Tri-State Coalition at The Echo, 6-20-14 Concert Review

Jimbo Mathus performing "Take A Ride"
In the mid-1990s I was a DJ at KWVA in Eugene, Oregon. I created and co-hosted a folk and acoustic radio program, and through my involvement with the radio station, I was turned on to a lot of great music I might not have otherwise heard. It was a wonderful time, and I caught a lot of shows. One of the bands that I fell in love with during that time was The Squirrel Nut Zippers. I saw them perform once at a place called La Luna in Portland (a venue that, unfortunately, is long gone now), and they were fantastic. I kept up with them for a while, and then, as happens, I lost touch, and they disbanded.

Then a couple of years ago I was sent an EP by Jimbo Mathus, who had been a member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. And immediately my love was rekindled. Titled Blue Light, this EP has some very cool tunes. Earlier this year I reviewed Jimbo Mathus’ new CD, Dark Night Of The Soul, an album I really dig. And then finally last night I got the chance to see him perform live. My expectations were understandably high as I entered The Echo in Echo Park, a section of Los Angeles.

Another band started the night – 8 Track Cadillac – going on at 9:20 p.m., and starting with a heavy Bo Diddley beat. A good, loud bar band, a little bit country, a tiny bit blues, and a whole lot of rock and roll. Just before they played “Summertime Blues,” some guy in a very shiny outfit came in. Think C-3PO if he were performing at the Grand Ole Opry. It was a good version of “Summertime Blues,” by the way, and I liked that they weren’t trying to do the Blue Cheer version. They later did a cool rendition of “You Never Can Tell,” a Chuck Berry tune that’s often mistitled as “C’est La Vie.” C-3PO seemed to be digging it as well, as he was doing a dance like directing forklifts where to put a stack of crates.

Throughout their set, folks kept coming in, so there was a decent crowd by the time Jimbo Mathus And The Tri-State Coalition took the stage at 10:15 p.m. While Jimbo was setting up, I asked him if there was a chance of hearing “Writing Spider,” one of my favorites from the new album. “There’s a chance,” he said, but clearly it wasn’t on the planned set list for the evening. I didn’t want to throw a wrench into the works, but it’s such a damn good song, you understand.

The band kicked off their set with a few songs from their 2012 full-length CD, White Buffalo. Jimbo Mathus played mandolin on “In The Garden,” then quickly switched to guitar for “(I Wanna Be Your) Satellite.” And then on “Tennessee Walker Mare” I loved the way the two guitars worked together during the instrumental section – totally delicious.

They got things rocking with “Fake Hex,” then followed it with the fun “Dirty Hustlin',” which featured some nice work on keys. There was also a very cool lead guitar section to that song. During “Take A Ride,” the drummer hit the floor tom with a tambourine rather than a stick. That song had a good groove.

For “Tallahatchie,” a song off of the new CD, Jimbo Mathus invited a couple of special guests up to the stage – Jamison Hollister on fiddle and Claire Holley on backing vocals. This was a really good rendition, and one of the set’s highlights for me. They both played on the next couple of tunes, as well, with Hollister switching to pedal steel for “Fire In The Canebrake” and “White Angel.” “White Angel” included a great scream by Jimbo Mathus. Both of those are also from the new album.

Claire Holley left the stage after “White Angel,” but Hollister finished out the set with the band. They played a few more from the new CD – “Dark Night Of The Soul,” “Casey Caught The Cannonball” and “Shine Like A Diamond.” No “Writing Spider,” but that’s okay. I was glad to hear “Shine Like A Diamond,” another favorite from the new album.

Hollister switched back to fiddle for the final song of the night, “Who’ll Sop My Gravy.” There was some nice play between the lead guitar and fiddle near the end of the tune. Time constraints kept them from being able to play longer, but folks were calling out for more at the end of their set.

Set List

  1. In The Garden
  2. (I Wanna Be Your) Satellite
  3. Tennessee Walker Mare
  4. Fake Hex
  5. Dirty Hustlin’
  6. Take A Ride
  7. Tallahatchie
  8. Fire In The Canebrake
  9. White Angel
  10. Dark Night Of The Soul
  11. Casey Caught The Cannonball
  12. Shine Like A Diamond
  13. Who’ll Sop My Gravy 
The Defibulators then took the stage after Jimbo Mathus And The Tri-State Coalition were done.

Here are a few photos from Jimbo Mathus And The Tri-State Coalition's set:

"In The Garden"
"(I Wanna Be Your) Satellite"
"Fake Hex"
"Fire In The Canebrake"
"Fire In The Canebrake"
"Dark Night Of The Soul"
"Who'll Sop My Gravy"

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