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April 13, 1999

Roots, Rock, Reggae

COUNTRY ROCK WITH JENNYANYKIND

I first read about the country rock act Jennyanykind in a recent issue of Magnet music magazine. It was one of those issues that had a listing of different music artist’s pick for best albums of the year. I noticed that an album by a band from Chapel Hill, Jennyanykind, called BIG JOHN’S, was on several lists of artists I admired, including Rick Miller of Southern Culture On the Skids, so I decided to give it a try. It didn’t take but a couple of listens before I realized this band had it going on.

Though their country rock style wasn’t anything original (Gram Parsons of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers is credited with the melding of the two styles back in the 60’s), Jennyanykind’s ability to write an interesting song made them seem superior to their country rock brethren like Son Volt, Wilco and 16 Horsepower.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of this style of music but I have never seen a band perform it in concert. So when I noticed that Jennyanykind was to play in Sluggos in Pensacola on March 26, I decided not to miss this chance.

On Friday nights at Sluggos free beer is offered from 9 to 11 p.m., so naturally there was a large crowd on hand that night, especially in the downstairs drinking section. However, instead of partaking of the free draft, I opted for a can of Schlitz for a buck and decide to play a few rockabilly tunes by George Jones and the Cramps on the jukebox in order to set the proper mood for the show.

About an hour after the free draft became dollar draft, the first band, Drive By Truckers, took the stage. Their sound was a little more country meets rockabilly than country rock, although their lead singer looked and sounded similar to Steve Earle. Most of their songs contained a rural white trash theme and actually sounded better in concert than they do on their album. In fact, the Driver By Truckers were such a hit with the crowd that after they finished encoring most of the crowd must have thought they already had received their money’s worth because only about 35 people stayed around to see the headlining act.

When Jennyanykind went on they seemed a bit miffed by the crowd size falling off. They ran through their first and only set in less than an hour. Though I thought the show was over too soon, I could understand why they were peeved. I still enjoyed hearing such songs as “Didn’t You Notice” and “The Heat, The Hot and The Hard Luck Swill” performed live.

An interesting footnote on Jennyanykind I discovered at the show is that one of its members, Cliff Browne, was actually a former Mobilian. I was quite shocked after the show when he came up to me and said he recognized me from working at Satori Sound. It seems he used to be in a band called The Echoing Green when he lived here in town back in the early 90’s. Since then he’s moved to Tuscaloosa and then on to Chapel Hill, where he’s played bass for Jennyanykind since just before they recorded BIG JOHN’S back in ‘97.

Hopefully, with the right breaks, Jennyanykind can achieve an equal status as other bands like Wilco and Son Volt. I honestly think they deserve it.


WOGGLES, JONNY & THE SHAMEN AND XBXRX SHOW IS A BLAST

Well, if you missed it, the Woggles show at South Side on April 2 was a real cut-up. (Actually everyone checked their knife at door and it was a fun, well-behaved crowd.) At least 100 people showed up for the 18 and up show to see Manfred and the boys put on one helluva show. Though there are plenty of garage bands out there, no one does it as good as the Woggles.

As I expected, incredible performances by both opening acts, Jonny & the Shamen and XBXRX, kept the crowd in an attentive frenzy. The latter seem to improve with each show they play. Even the Woggles were quite impressed with their talent and energy. However, Jonny and his band were not to be outdone. They capped off a roaring 45-minute set with the destruction on stage of their keyboard during the end of “Detonation Sequence.” With bands like these, Mobile’s local music scene is on the upswing.

When the Woggles came on stage just after midnight, I wasn’t so sure they could better the two previous acts. But after a couple of songs into their first set, it became obvious these guys are professional rockers. Lead singer, Manfred “The Professor” Jones, hadn’t lost a step over the years. He danced like Spiderman all over the stage and the bar as well. Much to the delight of the crowd, he even feigned being preacher and invited the crowd to “lay hands” on him during a fit of rapture. It was the most fun I’ve had at a show since R.L. Burnside played back in the Fall. I hope to see each of the bands play again soon. Each one is capable of putting on a stellar show.


Unfortunately the Gatemouth Brown show scheduled for April 7 at Monsoons was canceled. However, if you would still like to see him, he’s playing his 75th birthday party at the House of Blues in New Orleans on April 17th.

Also, don’t forget to catch Southern Culture On the Skids with Blue Mountain next Sunday at Sluggos in Pensacola or at Monsoons on April 20. Ya’ll come.

-- C. Cox


The Harbinger, P.O. Box U-980, Mobile, AL 36688-0001