Sunday's show at the 400 Bar

Sometimes it just feels right and salutary to plug in the Telecaster to a Vibrolux (you know the John Hiatt lyric from his song "Memphis in the Meantime": "right now I need a Telecaster through a Vibrolux turned up to 10") and bang out a loud and fun 45 minute set with a great rhythm section. "Hit it and quit it," to quote Sir Mix-a-Lot.

John Kerns (bass, vocals) and Troy Alexander (drums) joined me for a show on Sunday at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis. The room was surprisingly full for 11PM on a Sunday night, the other bands on the bill were good, and the vibe was cordial. Although it took 8 hours out of my life (arrive, load in, set up, soundcheck, hang out, listen, perform, hang out, listen, tear down, reload, get paid, drive home), I sold no CDs, I gave away three CDs, set myself up for two following days of sleep deprivation, and (once I factor in parking and some other costs) I LOST money, it was worth it just to hit that verse riff on "Librarian" really loud and hard, and feel the nice Stonesy groove by Kerns & Troy bangin' away behind me. I don't get to be the Jonathan Bar Band often enough, and it feels good to nail it once in a while. Now it's out of my system and I'm ready to be the acoustic Lutheran Folksinger this coming weekend in Chicago.

Anyway, here was the short but oh-so-sweet setlist from Sunday:

LIBRARIAN: on that last chorus Troy whacks that snare on quarter notes and my soul soars!
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE: me and cousin Bruce wrote this baby 10 years ago, and Bruce sings lead on the album version, but I jump at the chance to play it live whenever I can. One of the songs I'm most proud of, and I'll never tire of playing it. "I don't even think about her, I don't even care!"
IF I EVER GET THERE: my pretty-darn-successful attempt at arena rock, and after all the earnest retro folk and indie rock heard at the 400 Bar, I saw the bartender and the doorman flashing the heavy-metal-horns hand signal and happily headbanging during this tune. When I wrote and recorded this one on the Sound Theology album, I never really expected that I'd play it live, but since moving to Minneapolis I play it quite a bit...I think because Kerns likes it. It's a reaaaaalllly fun one.
THE PROPHETSTOWN TORNADO: this evening we played it Uncle Tupelo style, with electric guitar. Another one I'm very proud of, but rarely play solo. It needs the full-band boost.
ASK ME IN NEBRASKA: we've arranged a new post-solo chorus with some stretched out chords and's the way it should've been played all along. I did this song in every show from 1994 to 2000, and then never played it at all from 2000 to 2007. It's good to have it back!
NOTHING OLD NOTHING NEW: happily, my band seems to really like this one. I love the bridge, and I love delivering those lyrics. Heaven knows why I would write lyrics like that as a 25 year old, and I have no idea how it happened, but I love to say "you can bet that when I'm a senior citizen all these houses will be standing / you can bet that I'll still have some time and energy just for you." Like "Nebraska," it's good to resurrect this one back into the set list.
TAPE: Perhaps one of the 5 songs I'd choose to represent my career.
CAUTIOUS SPRINGTIME BLUES: this evening was the first time this song had ever been performed in concert with a full band. Kernsey requested it, we never rehearsed it, but we did it quite nicely. I remember trying to write it like a slow Lyle Lovett song, but it's become a real barnburner.
NO MORE WALLS: Michael Morris jumped up to play acoustic guitar on this one. The first song I ever wrote back in 11th grade, but it still feels true and legit and current to me. And singing and playing it feels especially subversive at a divey rock club. Teenage longing and earnestness and innocence. Could it have been Emo, only 15 years ahead of time? Hmmm...

Another reason the gig was totally worth doing was the presence of Yooper rock legend Scotty Alan (of the hugely impactful U.P. band The Muldoons) on the bill, who played his first show after three years of hibernation in his Upper Peninsula cabin. We'd played together before in Chicago and Marquette, so I knew he was awesome, but his new songs are totally inspiring and amazing...visit his lovely hand-drawn webpage and rock out to his MySpace site. This guy is the real deal, completely original and pioneering, and he makes me love life and music more than before. Thanks for driving down for the show Scotty, and I'm glad you didn't hit any deer!


Popular Posts