What luck!: Tempted by the fruit of another

Jason and his Vacations
at Jaberwoke
Saturday, June 19

I ventured to the Corner's Jaberwoke watering hole in search of a review of Travis Elliott's group– word on the street (namely my friend Paul) said the performer was hot (musically, that is), and he was scheduled to perform beginning at 10pm. I had seen Elliott once before, last summer at the Virginian, where he used to have an occasional solo gig (he has one there now on Monday's with John Figura), and at the time I dug his laid-back performance style and pristine choice of covers. Hence I was interested to see what Elliott's full band could do.

Unfortunately, a later than expected set-up time– and the addition of an opening band– threw my temporal plans for the evening into flux, but they did expose me to a group I will want to check out again, in its full grandeur: the amusingly titled Jason and his Vacations.

I was a little perturbed when the first words out of the singer/guitarist Jason's (I'm guessing that's the front man's name, though in this modern world of indie-rock, anything goes) mouth were, "Our drummer decided not to show up tonight," leaving the stage vacant except for the speaker and a gentleman on keys to his right. But though drums would have made a nice addition to the group's sound, the duo alone had enough spark and talent to make the scaled down version fully acceptable.

Beginning with a well-written pop song I didn't recognize (I later came to learn that except for the obvious covers, all the songs performed were written by the guitarist), it immediately became apparent that Jason had a masterful grasp of rock guitar. His fingers formed positions I had never seen, as his voice, strong across his octave range, flew in harmony with his tactile units. The song struck me as if Tom Yorke from Radiohead was covering Tom Petty– the falsetto and nasal quality of the former joined with the good old rock n' roll songwriting of the latter.

Next was David Bowie's "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)," with Elliott singing backup on the choruses– Jason's old school rock 'n roll guitar here was impeccable. "Death by decapitation," which I believe was an original, brought the comment "Doesn't he listen to the news?" but even with its non-PC undertones, the song was a really great one, in the style (both layout and vocals) of early Elvis Costello.

Travis Elliott et al. – I owe you a review. But Jason and his Vacations was a nice salve for a weary critic.

Jason and his Vacations