Walking out onto the stage in the upstairs venue in Whelans Jesse Dayton, surveying the small seated audience, joked that while last night’s audience was a full house that night’s was closer to a dysfunctional family reunion. He joked that he had played to more people in his back room. However that didn’t effect the night’s performance one iota. The trio played like they were in front of a stadium crowd; except with a level of intimacy that such a (large venue) situation wouldn’t have provided. The set was a mix of cool covers mixed with a selection from his most recent album The Revealer. These included set and album opener Daddy Was A Badass, The Way We Are, I’m At Home Gettin’ Hammered (While She’s Out Gettin’ Nailed) and Possum Ran Over My Grave which showed off his vocal prowess as he tok on the mantle of the titular George Jones. He then told a tale of seeing “No Show” Jones. Wherein at the age of 7 on a second attempt to see the legend the man himself arrived on stage in what Dayton described as a “country pimp suit.” With drink in hand he proceeded to fall comatose on the stage. Dayton was then told by his father that “that was country.” I’m At Home Gettin’ Hammered (While She’s Out Gettin’ Nailed) was a song that first appeared on the Banjo and Sullivan album that Dayton released as the work of the fictitious duo who featured in the Rob Zombie directed film The Devil’s Rejects.
Throughout the show Dayton was also a genial and humourous master of ceremonies, telling tall Texas tales and stories that related to the songs and to his own life and experiences. There was story of his Nanny who was born in 1897 and who introduced him to many things including Cajun and Zydeco music, as well as Texas blues platers like Lightin’ Hopkins; or how when all his contemporaries were trying to ape Stevie Ray Vaughan his role model at the time was Jerry Reed on Hee Haw. What is readily apparent throughout the gig is Dayton’s talent and fitness on guitar. He blends many different styles together to create something exciting and endlessly entertaining. When your dealing with a trio, in the classic, send you have to rely on the bedrock talent of the rhythm section and Chris Rhoades and Kevin Charney on bass and drums respectively provide the kind of support that any soloist would require. In other words both are very talent and versatile players themselves. Tonight, being Halloween. both have painted their faces in the spirit of the occasion. Again it is the “show” aspect of show business that they understand and underscore.
There is little doubting the influence that George Jones had on Jesse Dayton. Not only are they native Texans but Jones’ delivery and songs of heartbreak are imbedded in Dayton’s DNA. He sang us The Grand Tour during the set before encoring with White Lightenin'. A solid, rocking’ version that ending the evening on a high. An evening that should have been packed, that would have been a great night out for many roots music fans. It was however a starting point that will hopefully see him return and that the word will have spread to a degree where he creates a decent crowd to reward his time in Ireland.
Review by Stephen Rapid Photography by Kaethe Burt O'Dea