JD and the Straight Shot

The Gramercy Park Hotel / New York City, NY

James Dolan, aka JD & the Straight Shots by Arnie Goodman
James Dolan by Arnie Goodman

Among his many interests, James Dolan has a pet project, the Straight Shot, and that band just debuted their new Ballyhoo! album crowded onto a small stage in an oak- and velvet-trimmed hotel bar. A swanky invitation-only performance by the six-piece band charmed not only the leggy blondes and gray-haired suits in attendance, but this reporter as well.

Leader Dolan, aka JD onstage, is better known as the oft-embattled President and CEO of Cablevision Systems and Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden, but this night, in jeans and tousled hair, he was all about the music. The band performed most of the new Ballyhoo! album, noting that we’d already heard a few tunes on soundtracks, like “Hard to Find,” from the film St. Vincent. One particularly interesting tune, “Perdition,” is on the soundtrack of an upcoming Natalie Portman western, Jane Got A Gun.

The tunes showed a broader range of styles than I expected, ranging from pure Americana to country to rock. The band showcased consistently intelligent lyrics, good harmonies and a strong core, with Dolan on lead vocals, Erin Slaver on fiddle, vocals and harmony, and bassist Byron House combining to deliver a full, greasy sound. With stories covering topics from Trayvon Martin to carnival freak shows, JD & SS kept the ball rolling and kept our attention. I look forward to hearing the album.

—Suzanne Cadgène

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