Hotel Virginian: When Don Henley meets G. Love
The Virginian was unusually lively last Wednesday night, bulging with bodies (mostly female) to an extent that would have been impressive even on a weekend. Whether they were there for Chris Jamison and his two-man entourage or the $2 PBR drafts I couldn't say, though audience reaction to the group– including occasional dancing– seemed to support the former hypothesis.
I have a bad habit of arriving for shows at the time they're supposed to start rather than at APT (actual performance time), which usually leaves me with at least half an hour to kill, and on Wednesday night, my 9:30 arrival versus 10:45 APT was no exception.
When Jamison and co. did finally emerge, squeezing their guitar + vox / guitar / bass outfit into the tiny front window of the Virginian, I came to accept, however grudgingly, that the wait had been worth it. They presented my ears with a sound that I could instantly dissect and classify– Chris Jamison and his group sound like the Eagles' Don Henley fronting G. Love & Special Sauce. Perfectly.
Jamison has Henley's smoky high howl down perfectly (I kept waiting for him to break into "Boys of Summer"), and the group plays the sort of loose jammy blues with an emphasis on repetition that G. Love perfected in the early to mid-'90s.
On the songs I didn't recognize as covers, the group mostly stuck to the same songwriting format– verses with little short chorus hooks tagged on the end. You might think of "I Feel Fine" or various other Beatles songs for exemplary examples of this technique, though Jamison had traded in writing a second part to his songs ("I'm so glad that she's my little girl") for the lead guitarist doing what he does best (and from what I saw his best was really, really good).
"No safety in numbers" began Jamison to his strummed guitar with electric flourishes, a well-constructed tune of little more than four chords continually revolving around each other, only changing slightly on the choruses. A very intriguing version of Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue" popped out of the mix soon enough, jammed up for college music fan consumption it seemed, long guitar solos, and an air of B. Marley about the piece.
I don't know if Chris Jamison and his group have a drummer, left at home due to lack of space at the venue, but I say next time bring him along– drums would be the icing on the cake.
PHOTO BY MARK GRABOWSKI