Eilen Jewell @ Whelans 30 March 2013


The trio of guitarist Jerry Miller, bassist Johnny Sciascia and drummer Jason Beek, Jewell's long term road and studio band opened the show with a Miller instrumental Round 'em Up. This was a consummate showing of roots-rock riffing that immediately let you know just how good these guys are if you haven't caught them on previous visits or on foreign shores. Then straight into Where They Never Say Your Name followed by Sea Of Tears as Eilen took the stage. She then wished everyone a Happy Easter and thanked us for choosing to spend the evening listening to them before she plugged guitarist Miller's new solo album New Road Under My Wheels. Jimmy’s playing should have been enough to point you in the merch table’s direction.

From then on the quartet played songs from all their albums, although Back to Dallas (from debut album Boundary County) was the sole song from that album and came as part of the ‘special request’ section of the show. They played covers like Deep as Your Pocket by Loretta Lynn "the honky tonk queen", Twelve Gates to The City by Rev. Gary Davis and Arthur Alexander's The Girl That Radiates That Charm. Billie Holliday’s Fine and Mellow  brought the information that as singer Holiday was Eilen’s  her first love and influence. Jewell also said listening ‘while very young’ to Howlin' Wolf ‘probably explained a lot’. She also sang Stonewall Jackson’s lovely That’s Why I’m Walking while Charlie Rich's Thanks A Lot was the cue for trying out her cod Irish accent - "tanks a lot" -to much amusement.

Throughout Jewell radiated good humour and charm as well as displaying her undeniable qualities as a vocalist (and rhythm guitarist).Though she had been suffering from a throat problem it didn't affect her performance or enthusiasm. This however is an integrated and close-knit unit and Jason Beek added his backing vocals throughout the evening as well as being a part of a dexterous rhythm section. Johnny Sciascia played a short bass solo in If You Catch Me Stealing that emphasised his proficiency on the upright bass. Miller is Jewell's foil, never letting his amazing skill and dexterity overpower a song or Jewell's delivery.

Nor should Jewell's talent as a writer be underestimated. Her songs stand tall alongside the occasional classic or outside gem included in the set. Her songs in the set this evening included Back To Dallas, Rain Roll In ( a very 60s sounding song), In The End, Heartache Boulevard and Final Hour, a bluesy song with Miller reaching for his inner B.B. King. The 24 song set covered different textures, tones and tempos that grabbed the partisan audience from the first notes to the final encore song High Shelf Booze. Eilen was toasting us mentally she said until a pint of beer came up from the audience. "Sláinte" she said and that greeting about sums up the evening: music that's a cure for just about everything from the many who are there to witness another memorable performance from the extraordinary Eilen Jewell.

Review by Stephen Rapid. Photography by Ronnie Norton