Friday, February 20, 2015

Jack Russell Storyteller Live Acoustic Show at St. Croix Casino. February 19th. 2015

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Jack Russell came to Saint Croix Casino in Turtle Lake, WI Thursday night bringing only his guitar player Robby Lochner and forgetting his tambourine.  A few hours after I received the what's, where's and when's about my sit down with Jack I got another call from Jack’s manager.  Apparently Jack’s tambourine didn’t make the flight.  And since ya probably don’t know, Turtle Lake, WI isn’t exactly close to a Guitar Center.  Catching me before I left I was more than happy to bring one.  I mean of course I had one right?

 

I'm Never Washing This Again
After a brief exchange at the hotel and the tambourine passing Jack’s inspection I headed for the Casino.  Once I entered the haze of the casino lobby I managed to make it to the concert hall without contracting emphysema.  The last time I’d seen Jack Russell perform was in the mid 90’s with his band Great White in support of their Sail Away record.  Much has been documented about Jack’s health and what the years of drug abuse has done to almost every aspect of his physical being.  I knew very little about his current band or these sort of one off acoustic shows.   I will say that Great White’s music and Jack’s voice definitely work well with the unplugged setting so if there was any trepidation on my part it was of whether Jack could pull it off after all these years and all that abuse.  From the few minutes I spent with Jack before the show I can tell you he was in a great mood and seemed pretty pumped. 

 

Jack approaches these shows like an episode of VH1 Storytellers.  Taking breaks before and after each song to share stories of the time or the song.  Telling a story and making it interesting or funny isn’t a given.  But Jack has either done this so much or is just a natural or both as he seamlessly talked his way between songs to tell us about Mark Kendall wiping his ass with Jack’s socks when they were out of toilet paper.  Those of you familiar with his interview with Chris and Aaron would know the story of shaking Gene Simmons' hand with a rubber foot.  And my favorite he talked about how for a band to survive, you may need to eat a band member once in a while to avoid starving.  He suggested eating the bass player first as they aren’t really musicians. 

 

He kept everything loose throughout the night.  Maybe just a little too loose as occasionally someone in the audience would interrupt him to tell him a jem like “I saw you open for KISS in 92’.” (No it wasn’t me.)  And another local told Jack a story that took so long other’s in the audience started heckling him.  At first I was surprised how drunk everyone was getting for such a laid back performance but then I remembered I was in Wisconsin and it was a weekday.  (That one’s for you Aaron Camaro.  Go Vikes!)  But Jack didn’t seem to mind why should I.  He spent more than a fair amount of time talking with the audience.  And even that dude who seemed to be giving Jack driving directions to his house in the country ended up getting us a treat as Jack and Robby played All Over Now on a whim.  A song Jack said they had never included in any of these acoustic sets.

 

The set list (see below) for the night covered every era of Great White.  The only thing I felt was left out was the song Sail Away.  But there were enough unexpected surprises to offset any disappointment I may have had.  Jacks voice was in top form.  Any moments that may have seemed off could be chalked up to performing live as he sounded stronger at the end of the night than at the beginning.  While he joked about it being “Fucking cold” outside he talked about how happy he was to be performing and it’s clear there’s nothing else he’d rather do. 

 

Playing just a bit over two hours, when I was speaking with Jack afterward, I was amazed at how up he still was.  (Maybe it was the four Red Bulls he drank but still!)  We talked a little about the new song Hard Habit which sadly isn’t a sign that an album is on the way.  With all the changes in the music industry Jack feels releasing songs one at a time makes more sense than investing emotionally, physically and financially into a full album. 

 

The show I had just seen was pretty polished musically.  Robby brilliantly finessed the line between adapting the songs to an acoustic setting while maintaining their original integrity and feel.  When I asked how the unplugged show came together Robby told me there were several songs he had to convince Jack he could arrange for the acoustic.  Most notably Rock Me.  Which even I was surprised at how well it was presented and was a highlight of the night.   

 

We talked a little about his former band.  But being I was interviewing him for part of my review of the show I focused mostly on what he’s doing now and nothing we did talk about hasn’t been covered before.  Other than that we talked about his current band.  He’s happy to be playing with people who don’t bring 30 years of history with them.  He didn’t mean that as a dig at his former band but as something he appreciates about his current situation.  And while they couldn’t confirm the rumored summer tour with Quiet Riot, Enuff Z Nuff and Tracii Guns they could confirm it’s being discussed.  I also found out he’s never been ice fishing and I didn’t get the vibe he was going to while in Sconny. 

 

On a final note.  During the show Jack dedicated the song Save All Your Love to his wife Heather as he emotionally explained that she is sick and things aren't looking too good.  It doesn’t sound like they know for sure what’s wrong but he did ask that we keep her in our prayers.  While I’m not much for prayer plenty are.  And as gracious as Jack was to me I feel I’d be remised if I didn’t pass along Jack’s request here.  All the best to Jack, his Wife and Jack Russell’s Great White.  I look forward to seeing the whole band and if you get a chance to see Jack and Robby in one of these acoustic shows you’d be an idiot to miss it.  

 

 

February 19th, 2015 Turtle Lake, WI. Set List

Call It Rock N Roll
Rolling Stoned
Down On Your Knees
Face The Day
Save All Your Love
Who’ll Stop The Rain (Credence cover)
In The Tradition
Hard Habit (New song)
Sister Mary
Old Man (Neil Young cover)
Rock Me
Going To California
All Over Now
Robbie Solo
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Jumpin Jack Flash

Jack and the Author














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1 comment:

Gordon Roberts said...

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