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Review: Jason & The Scorchers – Berkeley Cafe 1/7/2012

Jan 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Entertainment

Jason Ringenberg and company are billing this as their 30 year anniversary tour. I had seen them some 25 years ago and that was by accident. I had traveled into NYC to see one of my favorite bands of all time, The Blasters, but they had to cancel. Apparently, the band was suffering from a stomach virus. At least that was their story and they were sticking with it. Instead, we saw Jason & The Scorchers.

The overwhelming thought I had when I’d first heard them perform in NYC in the 80’s was that the Scorchers played country music faster and louder than was probably legally permitted within Nashville city limits. They’ve been countrified rock’s purveyors of the Nigel Tufnel rule (the volume knob is turned to 11) and, after Saturday’s performance, I can honestly say that they don’t show any sign of turning down the volume knob any time soon.

The band made it a point to get the old favorites out of the way right off the bat, opening the set with “Cappuccino Rosie”, “Shop It Around”, and “Absolutely Sweet Marie” before introducing us to some new material from Halcyon Days, their new CD released in the middle of 2011. One thing that struck me as having changed was the band’s interaction with their audience. Perhaps this was due to the locale, but I’m guessing it had more to do with the many years they’d spent working in an unforgiving business.

Addressing the younger attendees, Ringenberg amused the audience with tales of the “old days” in the industry. “Back in the day they had something called vinyl records, and recording one required an extensive process. You simply couldn’t record it on your laptop”. He humorously explained the entire process start to finish, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Falling just short of saying “we had to walk 20 miles to the recording studio in bear feet..in the snow”, it was quite amusing.

While the set was dominated by more aggressive numbers, the band gave everyone a chance to exhale just at the right time. Dusting off one of my favorites from their best LP of the 90’s, Clear Impetuous Morning, Jason introduced the song by saying that it sums up his feelings about the state of things more today then ever. It also articulates the relationship between a band and it’s long time fans, I think, and explains how and why that relationship has endured over these many years.

Politically I’m not sure how I will vote
And I’m not sure of some songs that I wrote
But one thing I’m sure that I’ll do
I’m sticking with you, I’m sticking with you

From “I’m Sticking With You”:

Well everything changes and everything dies
Predicting tomorrow I get terrified
But looking at you I’m so sure of myself
I’m ready and willing and blind

Now that I’ve given up almost every dream
I’m more satisfied with immediate things
Still I know that this will come true
I’m sticking with you, I’m sticking with you
I’m sticking with you

It takes a lot to get me to drive to Raleigh for a show knowing that I’ll be commuting back in the middle of the night. That having been said, this show was well worth the long trip, midnight cheeseburgers from the golden arches, and agita that would surely follow. Even after the gastric consequences, it was a blast (no pun intended).

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it.

Richard Rossi was born in New Jersey to an old circus family and began performing daring feats of slumber at the age of 6 months. Now employed by an SEO company in Greensboro, he advocates non-violence in everything else he does. Rich is known to go on long fasts, partially as a means of self-purification and social protest. But mostly because he needs to lose a few pounds before speedo season.

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