This is not so much a critical review, more an advert for two of the brightest stars of Americana, or whatever the genre is called this week.
This gig at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms turned out to be the best double bill I’ve witnessed since I saw an unknown John Grant supporting Midlake in Leicester many years ago.
Beards, everybody has beards, these days and Jarrod Dickenson is no exception, with his tidy and precise one, complete with moustache, giving him the appearance of a very young Loudon Wainwright the third.
Dickenson is from Waco in Texas, with a voice like honey and rum and a precision way with acoustic and electric guitar. The latter particularly was effective on Gold Rush, no not the Neil Young one. His is a tale about “the gold rush but ended up like most songs do being about Wall Street greed,” he tells the crowd.
He’s supported Jools Holland and bizarrely even The Stylistics. Check out his album The Lonesome Traveller, a lovely piece of work and contains Rosalie and a bunch of other love songs tinged with heartburn.
Dickenson is a class act and he’s coming back to the UK in March for a handful of headline dates. Don’t you dare miss him.
White Buffalo is the stage name for another bearded troubadour, Jake Smith. He’s a larger than life one-man nuclear powerplant. A big lad with a voice that could kill cattle at 600 paces.
Accompanied by two superb musicians, Matt Lynott on drums, who looks a bit like Dave Gorman in a cowboy hat, and on bass Tommy Andrews, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Holger Czukay from Can.
Together they make a formidable wall of sound, even more remarkable when you consider Jake only sports a violently abused acoustic guitar. But by God does he give it some stick.
Word has travelled fast. Internet word of babble, plus Smith’s contributions to Sons of Anarchy and Californication soundtracks make for a great turnout.
The band respond in kind by giving their all in an exhausting epic set of almost Springsteenesque proportions. This greatest hits set includes Come Join the Murder, Last Call to Heaven, Joe and Jolene and especially Wish it Were True. All were delivered with passion and anger.
So there you go, a double bill of rare quality. I’m still exhausted 24 hours later. Promise me you’ll check these guys out, you won’t regret it, I’m off for another lie down.
Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes