Double JD on the rocks...



The living, breathing pumping heart of rock 'n' roll could be found in Dublin when JD McPhearson and his band played a blinder in Whelans for a appreciative sold-out crowd. in an 18 song and three encore set they displayed a sense and profound understanding of what makes rock 'n' roll work. It starts in the engine room with the solid foundation of drummer Jason Smay and upright bass player Jimmy Sutton. Sutton is a key component in the line-up as album producer, label owner, singer and musician he is a perfect partner to JD McPhearson. The icing on the cake was the wonderful texture added by saxophonist and occasional keyboard player Doug Cochran and B3 and pianist Ray. Both were integral to the powerful and expressive sound that is a soulful take on the fundamentals of r 'n' b and rock 'n' roll. JD is an expressive and impassioned singer and edgy guitar player who's Telecaster thrusts can only remind of a certain New Jersey singer and guitarist. The bulk of the set is taken from the debut album Signs & Signifiers, which originally was released back in 2010 on Jimmy Sutton's Hi-Style label. In the best way the songs were developed, expanded and energized from their recorded versions. JD opened the show with the words "This is going to be special!". It was. The songs from Jimmy Sutton's favourite song that JD had written A Gentle Awakening to other songs from the album which included Fire Bug, B.G.M.O.S.R.N.R, Dime For Nickles and of course the popular North Side Girl, a song which pretty much everyone in every city can relate to. They expressed delight in being in Dublin and Jimmy told us that many of them had Irish ancestry. He had on his father's side and as his mother was from Peru he declared himself a "mick/spic" hybrid. They also joked that the obviously Asian Ray was Irish too. Aside from JD's songs we were treated to a range of covers that highlighted the band's roots from Chuck Berry's Carol, the Premiers' Farmer John, their favourite Art Neville song as well as one from the pen of Bo Diddley with that vital signature drum beat. They return for a three song encore that finished with a  reggae-fied take on Oil In My Lamp, which JD informed us was in recognition of the Beat, a band that keyboardist Ray had played with for several years. It closed the show in fine style and again displayed the scope that this band are well capable of embracing. The signs were all good.


The Dublin debut of the Dirt Daubers proved again that Col. J. D. Wilkes know how to lead his troops to musical victory. This trio which includes his wife Jessica on banjo, mandolin and vocals and Legendary ShackShakers bassist Mark Robertson - who replaced original bassist 'Slow' Layne Hendrickson - on a set of new and traditional songs. Many came from their latest album album Wake Up Sinners including Wayfaring Stranger, The Devil Gets His Due, Trucks, Tractors and Trains and Single Girl and the set also included some ShackShakers songs like Blood On The Bluegrass from their debut Cockadoodledon't album. For those who might have missed some of the underlying humour that is apparent in the music it is much more obvious in these new/old songs and in the between song patter between the three members themselves and with the audience. Musically the trio make a very full sound built around Robertson's bass rumble, Wilkes' frailing banjo, washboard percussion and always excellent harmonica playing and (a kazoo on the end of a wire!) and Jessica Wilkes strong vocal and instrumental skills. These three are at ease with each other and their music and it shows. They entertain on every level and are called back for an encore which they obliged with and which had the sinners and saints wide awake and looking for more but curfew called.

Special thanks to all at Ubangi Stomps

Reviews by Stephen Rapid and photography by Ronnie Norton