Portland area rocker Jerry Joseph and his hard driving power trio the Jackmormons put out the official announcement about an extended New Years run in Portland yesterday. JMos fans can lay 2012 to rest with Jerry and the boys at the Alberta Rose Theatre on December 28th, followed by two nights at the always-amazing Mississippi Studios on the 29th and 30th. To finish in style and ring in the new year, the Jackmormons will play at the Baghdad Theatre on the 31st of December. As in years past, it’s safe to guess that these Portland shows will include some excellent opening acts and special guests joining the JMos on stage as well. For the latest info,visit http://www.jerryjoseph.com/tourdates.
Friday, December 28th, @ The Alberta Rose Theatre
Saturday, December 29th, @ Mississippi Studios
Sunday, December 30th, @ Mississippi Studios
Monday, December 31st, @ The Baghdad Theatre
Jerry Joseph and the hard rockin’ Jackmormons announced in late August they’ll be hitting the road again for a fall tour in continued support of their new double album, Happy Book. The Jackmormons just completed a Northwest run that began in Portland, OR and finished up at their yearly multi-night run in Virginia City, MT. The full band takes a brief respite while Jerry hits a few solo gigs on the east coast before the Jackmormons machine fires up again in Boise, Idaho on September 26th at the Neurolux. Jerry & Co. will head into their tour breakpoint by way of Utah, hitting Why Sound in Logan, UT on 9/28 and Salt Lake’s Bar Deluxe for a two night run on 9/29 and 9/30. Things pick back up again on 10/18 in Arcata, CA at Humbolt Brews with stops in Chico (@ Lost on Main on 10/19), Sebastopol (@ Hopmonk Brewery on 10/20), and Mill Valley (@ Sweetwater Music Hall on 10/21) before a night off. On back to back nights the boys will be in Felton, CA (@ Don Quixotes on 10/23) and Los Angeles (@ The Mint on 10/24) before finding their way to Arizona. Stops in Phoenix, AZ at the Crescent Ballroom on 10/25 and in Flagstaff at the Orpheum on 10/26 will conclude the fall tour. See tour dates below and check the Jerry Joseph website (www.jerryjoseph.com) for more Jackmormons and Jerry solo tour dates.
On a beautiful evening last June, we visited the Bar Bar Apartment at Mississippi Studios to see Jerry Joseph and Scott Law. This particular day, Thursday, June 23rd, happened to be one of the nicer days of our summer in the Portland metro area. During a normal summer, a clear, warm day in June wouldn’t really stand out… But this year… Well, if you were living in the northwestern US, then you know what I mean; This day was one of the first days of one of the longest stretches of warm days during the summer (which, by the way, amounted to about a little more than a week’s worth of warm, sunny days) and associated with the memories of this great show… are the memories of the warmth of that June Thursday.
Anyway, to get back on track with the review, we didn’t know how fortunate we were to have tickets to such an intimate show until we arrived at the top of the stairs to find our names on the list, and a small space filling with enthusiastic fans. We really hadn’t realized before hitting the top of those stairs just how special a show this would be. The venue is literally a small apartment above the other Mississippi Studios venues. The shows take place in the living room and the seating consisted of folding chairs in rows filling up the room. There were between 25 and 30 people in the living room with another 15-20 people watching from the kitchen and the entryway. Before the show we had ample time to grab a seat and a beverage and settle in comfortably. We were in the “back” row on the right-hand side, facing the stage straight on. I use quotations on the back row because although we were in the back of that row, there were only two rows of chairs in front of us. This was the type of show, type of atmosphere that you don’t get your phone or camera out to snap a photo or run video; The point was to enjoy the cool, intimate setting and take it all in. And this show included a lot of excellent banter, some of which we were able to jot down a note or two about, or pry from the recesses of our blissed-out brains after the show. As a quick note, we’d like to thank fellow show-goer and YouTuber TaperMark for graciously allowing us to use his stellar videos for this review.
Scott Law introduced the concept of the show, one of a series of living room shows. The focus, we were told, is on listening and acoustic tone, with maybe a little bit of electric mixed in. Jerry and Scott were seated on stools in front of the room so close to the audience that Jerry handed his red bull to an audience member to place at the base of his stool periodically during the evening.
The set started off nicely with World Will Turn which the duo jammed and stretched out a bit. The acoustics in the small space were amazing and the crowd really did an excellent job of listening and respecting the moment as the boys wrapped up the 7 plus minutes of World Will Turn. Next up was Radio cab, one of Jerry’s newer tunes with a definitively sadder tinge to it. The two acoustic guitars harmonized well, and Jerry threw in some vocal scatting during a particularly satisfying stretch of back and forth jamming on the acoustic guitars over the bridge of the song. A short pause for applause led into Wisconsin Death Trip which featured Law on an electric guitar with an effects pedal. He used a lot of vibrato in his playing throughout the night, and the pedal brought sounds ranging from twangy to bassy during this portion of the set. JJ played the first verse solo before Law began playing, building the song up nicely. Law’s soulful electric fingering over the top of Jerry’s playing brought the energy up in a subdued yet powerful way as the jammed out bridge included a few emotion tinged exclamations by Jerry. In preparation for playing Revolution, Jerry bantered about being in Nashville, and jokingly playing some of his songs with a country style, and then realizing that they sound good this way. Scott Law stayed on the electric, once again adding soulful electric finger picking over Jerry’s acoustic. As is usually the case, JJ’s vocals were particularly powerful. Jerry played solid, soulful rhythm between the second and third verse while Law’s electric picking had a very somber, almost pedal steel guitar-esque sound to it. Revolution jammed straight into a very country-tinged version of Chainsaw city, then back into Revolution.
World Will Turn
The room was so small and intimate that one could look around and see the communication occurring between the musicians as well as with the audience. It seemed that duo had not extensively rehearsed the songs together, and you could see Law taking the lead from Joseph, but adding his own unique take on where the song should go on this particular evening. Watching the intense listening and creative input occur on stage was a real treat. The skill of both musicians coupled with JJ’s passionate vocals made for a very powerful musical and emotional experience. With everyone seated, listening really was the focus, although the momentum of the music could not be contained, and there was a toe tapping and chair dancing throughout the room.
Revolution > Chainsaw City > Revolution
With Law switching back to acoustic, Jerry told a humorous story about being on vacation in the Yucatan, and then they played Road Home. The duo was so in tune, musically speaking on this one, that one could only think that they had definitely had a chance to rehearse it together. Scott Law’s acoustic style was definitely on display during a soulful, upbeat solo between verses. Both men’s guitars set a perfect the backdrop for Jerry’s powerful, sometimes raw vocals. Then came Beautiful Dirt with Law on Mandolin to end the first set. The set closer, another of Jerry’s newer songs, had a darker feel to it and Law’s mandolin definitely added some depth to it. The duo jammed back and forth for three full minutes before coming back to the final verses. They slowed things down markedly before coming to one last crescendo to finish the set strong to raucous applause.
The Road Home
During set break, the apartment was alive with energy, which continued to crescendo until the pair came back to their stools in the living room.
Set two began with Ship, a distinctly sad but deeply powerful song. Law watched contemplatively as Jerry played through the first verse, then joined in, once again on acoustic, adding depth as they picked up steam heading into the first chorus. The interplay between the acoustic guitars coming out of the second verse and through the rest of the song was masterful and Law’s finger-picking lead nicely into Jerry’s soulful round of “Hey’s” before the final verse. The sad, soulful set opener wound down into a subdued ending, setting the stage for Evasive, a personal favorite. Law’s picking over the top of Jerry’s powerful rhythmic strumming added a depth to the tune that made it even more epic than usual. If there are two things that you need to know about this song, the first is that an E chord quite possibly never sounded so powerful before as it does strummed soulfully in this tune. The second is that it starts with a pent up, quiet energy and builds continuously to an epic energy as the song progresses. Some songs just have that epic sound, and this one undoubtedly does in my humble opinion. The story JJ told during the banter about the concept for Evasive really added to the song’s power. We’d love to share it with you but would prefer that you go see Jerry live and hear it for yourself. Next up was Ten Killer Fairies, which was introduced as a character song. The emotionally riveting story was the perfect set up for another moving song with Law tearing it up on the electric. From just two guitars in the hands of these masters comes a very deep and robust sound.
Next up was Cochise, which continued in the emotional vain of Ten Killer Fairies. It started with JJ on acoustic and vocals. Law came in a bit later on the electric guitar, and complemented JJ’s rhythmic acoustic tone beautifully. Breakfast at Lucille’s featured both JJ and SL back on acoustic.
Excellent versions of Syracuse, which featured some excellent back and forth guitar interplay between Jerry and Scott, and Climb to Safety finished out the show. Climb to Safety featured SL back on electric, and was full of power to end the show on a high energy note.
Climb to Safety
This was a very special show, and was quite possibly the most unique and moving we’ve been able to attend. The energy in the room was a beautiful mix of the artistic energy and shared enthusiasm of the small crowd. The show was a wonderful precursor to Jerry’s own 3-day Dixie Mattress Festival in the days that followed, for which a review might surface in another decade…
Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons Take To The Road In Support of Upcoming Double Album Happy Book
Jerry Joseph, the best musician, songwriter, and rocker you’ve likely never heard of takes to the road with his amazing 3 piece band the Jackmormons in support of their upcoming double album Happy Book. If you hail from the Northwest, you’ll be excited to hear that Jerry, bassist Junior Ruppel, and drummer Steve Drizos will be rolling through a town near you in the very near future. The first leg of the run of shows kicks off in Joseph’s hometown of Portland on March 16th and rolls through Bend and Eugene before routing through Idaho en route to four shows in Montana. After a few weeks off, which as of late may seem like an eternity to Joseph who just concluded a solo tour through southeast asia, a run in Maui and is currently on a solo tour of the southeastern US, the trio will make a run up through California to complete the second leg. Stops in California include San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Petaluma, with things wrapping up in Arcata. Those of us in the know look forward not only to seeing Jerry and the boys at a venue nearby soon but the release of Happy Book, slated for a March 20th release date. See below for the full list of tour dates:
On Sunday, May the 15th, oft-local rocker Jerry Joseph paid a visit to the Laurelthirst Pub in Portland, Oregon.
Now, before we get started, it should be noted that this was our first time seeing Jerry Joseph and that there was no setlist available at the time of writing this review. So, song placement mentioned is approximate in cases and we didn’t catch all the names either. We’re there to have fun and taking notes during the show doesn’t really fit that bill…
The Laurelthirst is a pretty welcoming little place in south central Portland. The venue is a pub and has a nice long bar with stools and standing room at it as well as about fifteen four person tables. The staff was friendly and they had a pretty good selection of local microbrews on tap. The stage had a huge dark blue tapestry with the occasional star, much like the night sky, draped behind it, covering both walls and the ceiling above it. The stage was relatively low, just a few steps above floor height and was literally 8 feet away from where we were standing at the bar for the first set.
Early First Set
Showtime was slated for 9pm but as is often the case with the live music we choose to see, and lucky for us, the show began at 9:20 or so, just after we had arrived. Jerry walked out and grabbed his acoustic guitar, introducing former collaborater and bandmate Steven James Wright as both got settled in on stage. It looked like Wright had a jazz guitar or a wider body acoustic electric guitar as he sat down. They kicked right in, both of them on guitar, as the standing room portion of the venue filled up quickly. One of the first things we noticed was how positive the overall vibe of the show was. There were quite a few of us in a small space with constant movement of concertgoers as well but everyone was mellow and considerate of their neighbors.
The first set was around an hour and fifteen minutes long an was some thoroughly enjoyable acoustic music. The combination of Jerry’s soulful singing and powerful lyrics set to the rocking dual guitars kept the room moving. Many of the folks in the Laurelthirst were on their feet, taking full advantage of the standing room in front of the stage on two sides. While many of the songs we heard in the first set were not songs we had hear before, we thoroughly enjoyed the first set. A version of the song Ten Killer Fairies in the middle of the set was a big highlight. The stripped down sound of this song played acoustic further highlighted the soulfulness of it. The first set was for the most part a rockin’ one. Anyone who thinks that you can’t rock with acoustic guitars would have been proven wrong on this night.
At setbreak, I made a quick trip to pick up our friend Mike and just barely made it back in time to catch the start of the second set. I noiticed on my way out that Jerry had headed out pretty quickly to smoke and was chatting with folks outside on my way to the car. While I was gone, things had cleared out a bit and it allowed us to move over a few feet, which put us five feet from the stage and just about in the middle of the floor on that side. As I was walking back into the venue, the second set was just getting underway. Jerry was in place, minus the shoes and with a Red Bull at his feet as the set started. The little bit of extra space to start the set allowed everyone a little bit of room to move so the dancing for the second set was definitely more enjoyable. Our fellow concertgoers were very considerate folk, with the woman in front of us who wanted to be sure it was okay if she danced in front of us as a perfect example of this.
Early Second Set
The energy improved even more in the second set. Things started out strong with a few songs in Apollo and The Road Home that were new to us but excellent in the acoustic two-guitar style. The set lasted for around seventy minutes as Jerry and SJW wound their way through rocking jams and the slower yet powerful Ship. Our proximity to the stage and the slightly smaller crowd for the second half of the show really improved our view of Jerry and the stage, making it an extra enjoyable set. There is something to be said for being close enough to be able to observe the performers passion up close. Near the end of the set we overheard a fellow concertgoer explaining to someone near us that the song we were enjoying, titled Beautiful Dirt, was new as of this year and had only been played a handful of times. It was a slower, extremely powerful song and turned out to be the second to last song played in the set. Just before the start of the song, Steven James Wright had switched instruments to what turned out to be some type of electric Sitar. It did not look that much different than a guitar but, WOW, the sound was great… It gave the end of the set and the encore a different edge. The last song of the set ended at twelve o’clock sharp, the supposed curfew and end of show. Jerry took a few steps off stage, consulted with someone and hopped back up on stage, informing us that the folks of the Laurelthirst had been kind enough to grant us an encore. And then he took a big swig of his Red Bull and he and SJW rocked it for another seven minutes, closing the night with the song Wisconsin Death Trip.
The show ended and the place cleared out pretty quickly. We noticed Jerry stop to accept thanks from one of our show neighbors and then head quickly out, still minus his shoes. When we headed out, hurriedly trying to make it to the car and home to make that Monday morning pain just a little bit easier, we once again saw Jerry talking with the folks outside the Laurelthirst. All in all, this goes down as one of the better shows either of us have ever seen. And it’s pretty safe to say that the next time we see Jerry Joseph again, it will be even better. Here’s looking forward to the next time!