Words by Corinne Casella | Photos by Jeremy Gordon
Israel Nash and opener The Bones of Jr. Jones took the stage at The Knitting Factory on July 28th for a night of roots-driven Americana in all its glory and forms. First up was The Bones of Jr. Jones, a project from New York-based Jonathon Linaberry, a guitarist and singer inspired by a fiery fusion of folk and Appalachian blues. Armed with a steel guitar, kick drum and banjo, Linaberry adds his resonant voice to a hauntingly beautiful effect. His soulful lyrics carry an almost deceptive weight, conjuring images of deep dark canyons and campfire smoke; of grit, blood and salvation. Highlights included ‘Bless Your Soul’ and ‘St. James’ Bed,’ vintage work songs, telling tales of fire, brimstone and ultimate redemption.
Headliner Israel Nash opened strong, full of swagger and a heady mix of psychedelic country rock. Looking and sounding like Jim James’ doppelganger, Nash has a unique stage presence all his own, full of passion and a deep southern cadence. His band, featuring Joey McClellan, guitar; Eric Swanson, pedal steel guitar; Aaron McClellan, bass; and Josh Fleischmann, drums, pack a punch, performing twisting, radiating licks and extended jams. Highlights included the politically charged ‘Parlor Song,’ a heart-wrenching take on the current gun violence epidemic. At one point Nash stepped away from the mic and in perfect tune bellowed, ‘One day we’ll surrender all our guns, not until we shot everyone,’ producing a goose bump-like chill throughout the crowd.
Another high point was their performance of ‘LA Lately,’ a melancholic piece layered with Pink Floyd-esque bass lines delivered in perfect accompaniment by McClellan. The band’s appeal is one of homegrown grit, internally described as ‘ Desert Folklore.’ Reverberating their message across the expanse, Nash poetically declared that “the country does stuff to your mind – your soul.” Aching to impart an inner wisdom, Israel Nash’s music gives a voice to a generation desperately in need of connection. Through their music they impart a bit of soul lacking in our overly-connected worlds. Their melodies evoking space and freedom where only confinement and homogeneity lie.
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