Powerpop Concert Review: Jamie & Steve @ Smokey Joe’s, Charlotte NC
“Bless that bible, let the liquor run
before they raise the drinking age to 21
Two days time it’s going back to the grind
The weekend’s too short…”
New Yorker Graham Parker couldn’t have captured my frame of mind any more accurately. While there isn’t an abundance of great music or opportunities to hear it in these parts, North Carolina actually has it’s share if you know where to look for it. And lately, having seen and heard what a kick-ass show Jamie & Steve (former Spongetones) deliver weekend-in and weekend-out, I’ve been making the trip down to Charlotte a couple Saturday nights a month to check out their show, each time at a different venue.
It’s sort of a restaurant review, but better. It’s music we’re sampling.
In February it was The Chop Shop, a few weeks later The Evening Muse, and more recently, Smokey Joe’s, all in Charlotte. Each show, Jamie & Steve draw from a stellar collection of songs from their three EPs, and Saturday at Smokey Joe’s would be no different in that respect. Once again, they played some favorites like “The Next Big Thing” (from the EP of the same name) and “Goldmine” (from the latest, Imaginary Cafe. The harmonies on “Can we start again” and Your Name Here are always spot-on but somehow manage to get even better each time, if that’s possible. But what makes these journeys to Charlotte most worth it are the adventurous surprises these guys throw into each new set.
Two shows ago, the guys tackled a cover of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”…LIVE. Think about it…that’s HARD. But they pulled it off and frankly, It was a blast. That set the bar pretty high but this past show, they went for the fences. This time they attempted to play what is in my view the best song on The Next Big Thing (and maybe the best single of 2011), “Half a Mind”. If you are familiar with the song, you know how difficult it must be to perform live. It required a couple of guitars, a ukulele, and a triangle among other things but, by God, Jamie & Steve pulled it off….and it sounded great.
I should also add that the venue, Smokey Joe’s, has a very inviting vibe. Big screen TVs show the local sporting events while seating surrounds the stage which is pushed back against the far wall as you come in. The bartender was excellent but be forewarned – there is no kitchen. That is the only down side to what is otherwise a really fun place to catch a show.