When three separate people, unrelated to and independent of each other, reach out to me to tell me about an upcoming show, it’s a pretty clear sign I should listen to what they’ve got to say and who they’re saying it about.
This is exactly what happened when JD McPherson decided to come to town.
To be clear, the three people who passed on the recommendation were not Tom Waits, Nick Lowe, or John Prine—although it easily could’ve been (provided I was acquainted with any of those legendary songwriters, that is), as all three are reportedly big fans of this Oklahoma crooner.
That’s pretty heady stuff for a guy who used earn his living in front of a classroom rather than behind a microphone.
McPherson, however, seems to be taking it all in his Brylcreemed, analog-loving stride.
To call McPherson a throwback artist would be an apt description, but if that description brings to mind another slammin’ soul singer from the Daptone roster a la Sharon Jones or Charles Bradley, you’ve found yourself lost in the wrong musical era.
To meet up with the musical tradition from which McPherson draws and then so effortlessly channels, you’ll have to travel back in time a little further, to the days of Buddy Holly and early Elvis Presley, perhaps. Because the music that speaks to McPherson is also the stuff that made the 1950s so great—and if you think a person raised on punk rock and cattle ranching in the modern era can’t do Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis justice, you obviously haven’t heard McPherson blow through tracks like “North Side Gal” and “Scandalous” like a time traveler from a music scene past.
The truth is, Bellingham has frequently embraced such nostalgia-inducing modern acts—and often long before the rest of the world catches on. In that sense, McPherson can be classed right alongside Jones and Bradley, which means all signs point to his upcoming Green Frog show presenting a prime get-in-on-the-ground-floor musical opportunity. What I’m trying to say is, see McPherson now before the whole world catches on, lest you have to buy a pass to next year’s incarnation of Bumbershoot or Sasquatch to see what you so regrettably missed.
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