Call JD McPherson‘s style throwback if you like, but don’t mistake it for novelty. The former punk rocker and middle school art teacher created a raw and energetic blend of jump blues, rockabilly and early rock & roll on his Signs & Signifiers debut, recording to 1/4 tape on analog equipment. Still, the native Oklahoman is just as likely to cite The Smiths or Wu-Tang Clan when pointing to specific influences in his songs as he is Little Richard or Ruth Brown.
McPherson joined us with his band at Bunk Bar in SE Portland for a hot set of songs from the debut and a performance that has tempo and energy, yes, but something more. It’s one thing to play fast and loud and it’s still another recreate old influences, but you can’t fake primal. Look no further than the live take on “Wolf Teeth”— an already burning number threatens to run right off the rails when McPherson throws his vocal up another octave, singing like he’s not going to be around in the morning. The band falls in for the chaos that ensues, somehow holding it together to an imperfect end. It’s perfect. Not throwback, not vintage, not novelty, just rock and roll.
10/5/17 Update: McPherson plays at the Crystal Ballroom tonight.
Audio recording/mixing: Steven Kray
Video production: Ifanyi Bell
Videographers: Ifanyi Bell / Greg Boone / Mike Smith / Luis Giraldo
Executive Producer: David Christensen