Jason & The Scorchers – Live Cowpunk 1/7/2012
I remember their name as being most appropriate because, as the originators of cowpunk (apologies to X as there is some room for debate there), they were powerful. Country songs on amphetamines, volume turned up to 11 (as Nigel Tufnel would say), at the end of a set the band left only scorched earth.
30 years older. Can they still bring it? The answer…a resounding YES.
Show time was listed as 9pm so I did what any respecting “cowpunk” fan does. I showed up at 9:15. Still no band. But then at 9:20 they were on. Bad sign, I thought. I figured they probably didn’t have the stamina they once did so they wanted to make it an early evening.
I’m an idiot.
They launched into some old favorites including “Cappuccino Rosie” from Clear Impetuous Morning, one of my favorite LPs from their now extensive catalog. Two Scorchers classics, “Shop It Around” and “Absolutely Sweet Marie” were next, and I have to admit, they rocked as hard as I remember some 30 years back. It was just like back in the 80’s when Billboard Magazine described them as an “amalgam of speedy hard rock fused with Ringenberg’s decidedly country twang, along with the band’s ability to deftly negotiate between Rolling Stones-style stomps and quieter, more melodic acoustic country music”.
I was home.
And the band was too. While the only original members from the band were Jason Ringenberg and his right hand man, guitarist extraordinaire Warner Hodges, they seemed to really enjoy themselves and appreciate their audience. I guess that’s one thing maturity does for you. It slows you down just enough to see your surroundings. You don’t take things for granted any more because you understand that today doesn’t last forever. Life happens and if you’re lucky enough to still be relevant to somebody, anybody, well then you’re one up on the rest of us.
Incidentally, Hodges was great and he’s got a solo CD out entitled Centerline. I’ve not heard it as it just became available in the US. It’s available as an import here. If anyone knows where to get it domestically please leave a comment and let us all know.
Ringenberg shared a few anecdotes between songs as well. He gave a humorous history lesson for the younger folks in the crowd, explaining what vinyl records were almost as if he wee a Smithsonian tour guide. And his shirts…his designer deserves a Grammy or something. At one point Ringenberg commented (and I paraphrase of course), “People can comment on my songs or criticize my voice but one thing is for sure. I am the best dressed man in Rock n Roll”. And I’m inclined to agree.
Other classic Jason & The Scorchers songs from the set included Ball & Chain, I’m Stickin With You, and the title cut from the new release, Halcyon Days.Through all of it you could see both Ringenberg and Hodge smiling underneath their rocker facades. They also played quite a few songs from Halcyon Days, their new release available HERE.
When the smoke cleared and the night was over, I was pleased that I’d made the two hour journey to Raleigh. clearly, Jason & The Scorchers had not lost a step. Now for the long, late night ride home….