Sometimes long evenings are just that—long—but every once in a while it’s well worth the wait, and we got one of those bonus nights at the CMJ Climax Showcase at the Cutting Room.
We cut our musical teeth on Fifth of Bourbon, led by the dynamic Kathleen Fletcher, who looks like a schoolteacher but delivers like Janis Joplin. The remarkably clean-cut band turns well-known songs inside out. They morphed Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” into a bluesy, slide guitar number and took on such diverse cuts as Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” and the Joni Mitchell/CSN staple “Woodstock,” which was delivered at a pace that made Woodstock seem like a one-day affair. Personally, I would have been grateful to have seen a ballad among their offerings, but what they did, they did well.
Most of the crowd came to see the Stone Foxes, and with good reason. Blues, R&B, metal and rap all found a place to live in the Stone Foxes’ brief showcase. Fronting this dangerously high-voltage group, lead vocalist Shannon Koehler knows exactly how to connect with an audience and fires the band’s electricity across the stage like a lightning bolt. Constantly moving and exchanging places (and instruments), the San-Francisco-based band stayed in perpetual motion except for approximately 30 seconds when they announced that their hometown Giants had taken the lead in the World Series—then back to business. Teeth bared, toes over the apron, guitars, bass and harmonica wailing, Koelher climbed atop a table, demanding that we dance—and dance we did. “Cold Like a Killer” was my favorite song by a hair.
The band is now releasing one new song for free on the first Friday of every month, and at the end of the year they will be compiling those songs, along with live versions, bonus tracks and photos into one album compilation…but don’t forget to see this group live, they’re worth every drop you’ll sweat while dancing.
Some of the audience skedaddled at midnight-plus, after the Stone Foxes, but that was a big mistake. We didn’t mind staying at the very comfy Cutting Room until the wee hours because last but not least came Jon and the Jones, which rounded off our evening perfectly. Lead singer Jon Moodie’s raspy delivery makes John Fogerty and John Lee Hooker sound sweet-voiced, and the rest of the band has personality to spare as well, from the outsized and well-named drummer, Helen Destroy, to the ebullient bassist, Brian Stanley, who could be an Elvis-impersonator in his spare time. With all original songs featuring funky, alt-blues leanings, this is definitely a band to watch. They’re releasing their first album in early 2015, and based on two tunes, “Misbehave” and “Take Me Down,” I can’t wait. Look for them.
– Suzanne Cadgène