Wacky Wednesday will return next week.
|Jon Spencer uses his head|
|Two thirds of an Explosion|
And yes, I saw some inspiring music too, music that makes me proud to be an American.
That's the sound of The Blues Explosion!
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, touring behind their rollicking new album Freedom Tower: No-Wave Dance Party 2015, played The Black Cat Club last Saturday night.
And Spencer sweats more than any singer I've ever seen with the possible exception of James Brown.
I'd seen this group live twice before. Once here in Santa Fe back in 1994 when they opened for The Breeders at the old Sweeney Convention Center. The next time was 1997 when I was playing Rock 'n' Roll Tourist in New York and JSBX was playing at the Freedom Tibet festival.
|Making the theremin holler|
It sometimes seemed they were emphasizing the "No-Wave" aspect of the album title on Friday night. Yet still, it was a "Dance Party." The music always is more fun than artsy -- even when it's artsy, Through the wall of noise, distorted blues, soul and funk riffs provided a framework for the sonic madness. And though sometimes the vocals were buried beneath the chaos, Spencer's charisma, his sly grin and his unabashed enthusiastic showmanship carried the night.
And the boy plays a mean theremin!
|Daddy Long Legs|
Led by the tall gawky red-headed singer and harmonica honker (who also goes by the name Daddy Long Legs) the group ripped through tunes from their Norton Records albums Blood from a Stone and Evil Eye on You.
I've been wanting to see this band for a couple of years. To be able to see them on the same bill as The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was a special joy.
But by far the weirdest show I saw in Washington, D.C. was by one of my favorite cowpunk groups, Jason & The Scorchers, who provided the music for a modern dance performance at The Kennedy Center.
You read that correctly. Jason & The Scorchers. Kennedy Center. Modern dance performance. Cowpunk.
The idea for the performance, titled Victory Road (from an old Scorchers tune) came from Lucy Bowen McCauley, artistic director and choreographer of the dance company bearing her name.
“It’s a journey,” McCauley told The Washington City Paper. “There’s a reason there’s one song after the other. It’s not like Broadway; there’s no talking among the dancers and the dancers don’t sing. But there is a storyline, a riff on [The Scorchers] history.”
Basically, singer Jason Ringenberg stood at one end of the stage while lead guitarist Warner Hodges was at the other end. The rest of the Scorchers were below in the orchestra pit. In the middle of the stage, the dancers did their thing.
Look, I'm a complete rube when it comes to dance performances, modern or otherwise. I'm a rock 'n' roll guy, not a dance guy. So I won't pretend to review that aspect of the show. I was there for Jason and the boys -- though I suspect most of the audience there were modern-dance fans.
However, probably due to the elite setting of the Kennedy Center and the whole dance thing, the Scorchers were more subdued than the wild men I saw tear up the Liberty Lunch in Austin at South by Southwest in 1997. They never turned it up to 11 at the Kennedy Center. Kept it about 8 and a half, even for their encore songs they played following the regular Victory Road program.
Still, it was great to see them again. I have to respect their willingness to try something like this.
Come to think of it, Jason & The Scorchers doing music for a modern dance troupe makes me proud to be an American also.
Photo by Chuck McCutcheon