This past Saturday night downtown Duluth, GA was awash with a plethora of activity. Some folks were out for dinner, some were partaking in cocktails, some were part of a massive private party taking place on the green and then there were the others. The others that trekked from all over metro Atlanta for an evening of music at the Red Clay Music Foundry presented by Eddie Owens. As the party band rolled through all the Lionel Richie, Huey Lewis and Outkast outside, inside Jimbo Mathus and band were tearing things up with a collection of tunes steeped in blues, country, folk and rock.
Taking the stage with a humble hello and a gracious thank you Jimbo Mathus kicked things off with a song about a horse. From his record White Buffalo, “Tennessee Walker Mare” set the tone for the evening. It eased listeners into his set of music before Jimbo and crew unleashed the new material and went a little wild. With 5 records over the last 5 years Mathus had a wealth of music to bring to the stage without even digging way back into his career. Songs like “Self,” “Writing Spider” and “White Buffalo” get better with age and the new stuff sounded incredible live. Songs like “Coyote” and “Shoot Out the Lights” exploded from the speakers and the humorous “Old Earl” took on a guitar centric feel with Carlos’ keyboards absent from the evening. The song “Mama Please” stole the evening as Jimbo belted out lyrics about a man that failed to live up to his mother’s ideals. A few covers were added to the set which mixed perfectly with Jimbo Mathus originals. The somber “Sing Me Back Home” from Merle Haggard and the traditional “KC Jones” sounded great but when they closed the night the Carter Family’s “Sunny Side of Life” the crowd sang along proudly.
The evening of music was all about Jimbo Mathus. There was no supporting act to kick the evening off just Jimbo, Stu, Paco and Youngblood showing their wares to a group of loyal fans. Another aspect of Saturday night’s show was the intimacy Jimbo Mathus brought to the evening. He set up each song with a story or remark offering a bit of insight to the methods of his madness. The banter between bandmates and crowd was more akin to a back porch sing-a-long. Before, in-between and after sets Mathus and bandmates spent time hanging out in the lobby signing albums, cds and pictures while talking music with fans. Showing genuine appreciation towards his fans it is musicians like Mathus that get it.
Jimbo Mathus always puts on a show worth seeing. He is every bit a showman as he is a humble man appreciative of his opportunity to play his music for anyone that wants to listen. As Mathus and band delivered their new music at the Red Clay Music Foundry the varied crowd was hooked by the catchy lyrics and Southern melodies. Some were there because of his Squirrel Nut Zippers days and others only cared about his solo material, either way everybody in Duluth had a great time Saturday night. Go check out Blue Healer it is one of the best records Mathus has written and if he is playing anywhere near you, go see the show. You can thank me later.