The Nippertown concert calendar has seen quite a few female country-oriented performances in the past couple of weeks – including Elizabeth Cook, Rani Arbo, Carrie Rodriguez, Mountain Man, April Verch, Emmylou Harris – but at The Linda in Albany last weekend, the Eilen Jewell Band may have just topped ’em all.
Just a few songs into her performance, the blond, Boston-based singer-songwriter declared that she was about to perk up her show with a murder ballad. When the crowd responded with a hearty round of applause, Jewell smiled broadly and declared, “Ah, you are my people!”
While she certainly exhibited a great and abiding affinity for sad songs – “Sweet Rose,” the blues-soaked “Where They Never Say Your Name,” “Sea of Tears” – her concert was certainly no pity party.
Backed by a lean, mean little trio led by mind-boggling twangmaster Jerry Miller, Jewell dug into Loretta Lynn’s vast song catalog for a handful of tunes from her latest album, “Butcher Holler: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn,” exploring the timeless country music themes of drinking (“Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ With Lovin’ on Your Mind”), cheating (“Another Man Loved Me Last Night”) and fighting (“Fist City”).
But her affection for the Coal Miner’s Daughter was only one facet of Jewell’s musical expansive performance. She also served up some sassy, low-down Bessie Smith blues, a vintage Van Morrison & Them nugget, an Eric Andersen ramblin’-man ode and a hot-wired, deep-twang rendition of the garage-rock classic, “Shakin’ All Over.”
And fortunately, Jewell’s own original songs were every bit as tasty as her cherry-picked cover tunes, from the bourbon-soaked, jazzy blues shuffle of “High Shelf Booze” to the smolderingly sensuous “Too Hot to Sleep” to the the honky-tonkin’ roadhouse romp of “Heartache Boulevard.”
Eclectic, electric and thoroughly entertaining, Eilen Jewell simply sparkled.
Opening the show was another excellent Boston-based band Jo Henley, led by Schenectady native Andy Campolieto on vocals and guitar. The country-rock quintet choodled through a snappy, 40-minute set that showcased crackling tunes from their albums, “Inside Out” and “Sad Songs and Alcohol,” as well as a new tune “Over the Pine Plains,” a historical ode about the 1690 massacre of Schenectady.
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Photographs of Jo Henley by Karen Morse can be found here
The Eilen Jewell Band will make her debut at the new Club Helsinki Hudson in Hudson at 9pm on
Friday, February 4 UPDATE: Saturday, January 22. Tix are $15. And Jo Henley will be returning to Nippertown for a performance at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Saturday, January 22. Tix are $15 in advance; $17 at the door.
THE EILEN JEWELL BAND SET LIST
Rain Roll In
Deep as Your Pocket (Loretta Lynn)
Too Hot to Sleep
High Shelf Booze
Rich Man’s World
Fist City (Loretta Lynn)
Another Man Loved Me Last Night (Loretta Lynn)
Where They Never Say Your Name
Sea of Tears
I’m Gonna Dress in Black (Them)
Shakin’ All Over (Johnny Kidd & the Pirates)
Dusty Boxcar Walls (Eric Andersen)
In the End
Sorrowful Blues/If You Catch Me Stealin’ (Bessie Smith medley)
Don’t Come Home A’Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind) (Loretta Lynn)
JO HENLEY SET LIST
The Great Depression
Save the Last Dance for Us
Over the Pine Plains
Gonna Make It Right
Sad Songs and Alcohol