Jason & the Scorchers @ The Iota, Arlington VA

I saw Jason & the Scorchers for the first time in the early Eighties in a club in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. There were maybe 10 of us in attendance. The band played like their hair was on fire, mindless of the modest size of the crowd.

Friday night at the Iota in Arlington that fire is still burning. Even though the original rhythm section has been replaced by Al Collins on bass and Pontus Snibb on drums, the band still plays their signature blend of county and rock like the twenty somethings we all were back in that small Florida club.

The Iota is a small venue with a national reputation. Friday night was, sadly, my first time seeing a show there. I say sadly, because I’ve “meant” to go to shows there many times over the years and have always punked out for one reason or another – but no more!

I have referred to Jason & the Scorchers as my favorite band that no one has ever heard of. This is obviously not the case for the 200 or so other folks at the Iota Friday night.

The band is touring in support of their latest release Halcyon Days. Check it out and then buy it.

Anyway… the band opened with “Mona Lee” from the new album. Guitarist Warner E. Hodges’ Stonsey riffs just about peeled back our eyelids, a dynamic of the small club experience! Hodges is an Army brat whose parents played Country Music shows all over Europe while he was growing up and I’d like to think that his “Bratness” informs his guitar playing. Sadly he is one of the most under-appreciated and overlooked guitarists of the last 20 years.

After a couple or three more songs, the band was warmed up enough to play hosts to their support act, Stacie Collins. Stacie is also the wife of Scorchers bass player Al. This lady brought the goods! She opened with the Scorcher track “200 Proof Lovin'” and easily made it her own. She followed with a few of her own numbers, both singing and playing the blues harp. I was quite impressed. As I told her after the show, I’ve never seen a woman play the harp like that – hell, don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman play the harp, period!

Once Stacie was finished getting everyone in the place nice and sweaty, singer and frontman Jason Ringenberg rejoined the band on stage and they proceeded to rip through another 90 minutes or so of Scorcher’s classics and tracks from the new album.

Some of the highlights, and by highlights I mean my favorite songs, included “Harvest Moon”, “Lost Highway”, “White Lies” and the Dylan cover “Absolutely Sweet Marie”. Other highlights include picking up a piece of fringe from Jason’s western shirt, having Al Collins give me a pick and getting a tour poster autographed by the band members – I felt like such a fanboy! Oh, and a hug from Ms. Collins! Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to get pictures taken with the band or Stacie until halfway back to the car.

It was a great show, in a string of great shows over the past month, each one so different from the others. With no other shows on my radar for the remainder of the year, it will be one helluva a memory to close out 2010.

As a side note, Jason Ringenberg is also known as “Farmer Jason” an Emmy award winning “kids of all ages” act.

Selected discography : Halcyon Days, Clear Impetuous Morning, A Blazing Grace and Midnight Roads & Stages Seen

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