If you have been lamenting the fact that artists who make full length LP’s who also tour and musically expand on the recorded material are extinct, rest easy there has been a sighting! Touring in support of the just released, critically lauded, Sunday Morning Record the Band of Heathens (tBoH) hit Cambridge on September 28th.
The Sinclair’s 500 person plus capacity was almost full with the crowd buzzing in mid-Saturday night form. At about 10:30 PM the five piece band (Trevor Nealon keyboards, Richard Millsap drums, Scott Davis, Bass, Gordy Quist, guitars and vocals and Ed Jurdi, guitars and vocals) opened with the stripped down, bluesy “Your Gonna Miss Me”. The tune was brilliantly extended in what is sometimes referred to as a “mind left body” jam. It was to be the first of many improvisations throughout the night. The new rocker “Shake the Foundation” followed.
The night was all about the music and musicianship. The stage was simply backlit throughout the show and the band for the most part did not engage the audience in between songs. The band’s trademark, angelic harmonies shined through on fan favorite “Jackson Station”. A briefly disguised, swamp bluesy “Medicine Man” complete with psychedelic bridge/coda found the band and audience in full groove.
The night showcased some of the songs on the new release, although not technically new as some have appeared in set lists for a while. The seventies, Eagles’ sounding “Shotgun” with its time changes played well, however, the pop sounding “Caroline Williams” struggled to connect.
The high point came about two thirds through the show with the prison spiritual, “No More Cane” featuring each member taking a turn on lead vocal. The delicate “Gris Gris Satchel” followed and the trifecta concluded with the dark, brooding “Hurricane”. “Look at Miss Ohio” started slow and built into another “liver left body jam”. The show ebbed and flowed perfectly throughout the night as blues, folk, gospel and rock tinged jams were separated with stunning harmonic hooks.
The set concluded with a searing “LA County Blues” with a final jam befitting the “Steal Your Face” patch Jurdi proudly displayed on his jacket. Opener Joe Fletcher joined them on vocals for the encore “Bessie Smith” a deep, deep cut from The Band’s 1975 Basement Tapes.