They say that everybody is a little bit country and, in an attempt to prove or disprove that statement before they finally nail my coffin lid down, tonight’s task was to investigate the Nashville inspired charms of Jessica Lynne, the home-grown country talent of Gasoline & Matches and, just for a bit of unexpected variety, local blues rock legend Gary Johnstone.
Gary Johnstone is well known to these ears of mine and, with his enthusiasm and firebrand guitar skills much to the fore, he led his band on a musical journey that would make you forget that he was the product of this no mean city and not a true son of the south. His band, seasoned as they were to the kind of perfection that you would expect of an American band, provided the kind of solid support that enabled him to rock the house. Not country then, but plenty good nonetheless.
Rather more country were Gasoline & Matches and, while they were British country, it was remarkable just how much they sounded like a creation of the Nashville music machine of today with their songs all being stamped with the familiarity that practically guarantees radio play on either side of the pond.
On to the real deal and you know that must mean pedal steel. To tell the truth, country music doesn’t usually make my heart skip a beat but even the recently deceased would have been brought back to life by the sheer exuberance that Jessica Lynn brought to the stage. With a prom queen’s purity of purpose and enough supporting pedal steel to exorcise the legends of the past, this natural powerhouse took a set of what was practically family entertainment and turned it into ponytailed perfection that would convince even the most cynical listener – like me – that Nashville might be the place to be. Even better, she is actually from New York and so, it would seem, was pedal steel star Bob Riedel so maybe she isn’t as truly country as she makes herself out to be.
So, convinced by country? Probably not. Convinced by Jessica Lynn? Oh yes!