Call JD McPherson's style a throwback if you like, but don't mistake it for novelty. The former punk rocker and middle-school art teacher crafts a raw and energetic blend of jump blues, rockabilly and early rock 'n' roll on his debut album Signs & Signifiers, recording to 1/4 tape on analog equipment. Still, McPherson is as likely to cite The Smiths or Wu-Tang Clan as influences as he is Little Richard or Ruth Brown.
McPherson joined us with his band at Bunk Bar in Portland for a hot set of songs from the album, and the resulting performance transcends its raw energy. It's one thing to play fast and loud and re-create old influences, but you can't fake primal. Look no further than this live take on "Wolf Teeth" — an already scorching number, it threatens to run right off the rails when McPherson throws his vocal up another octave, singing as if he's not going to be here come morning. The band falls in for the chaos that ensues, somehow holding it together to an imperfect end. It's perfect.
Visit the full session page with additional videos at opbmusic.org.
Ifanyi Bell, video production; Steven Kray, audio mix.