I started my week seeing JD & The Straight Shot for the third time in three years. Previously I had seen them at huge venues (United Center opening for The Eagles and Huntington Bank Pavilion opening for a Don Henley solo show) where I had to take pictures from far away. When I heard they’d be playing the much much much smaller City Winery here in Chicago, I thought it would be a good idea to at least get some better pictures.
It turned out to be the best I’ve seen them play. I don’t know if it was the more intimate setting or if they brought a little something extra to the Sirius XM Coffeehouse tour, but they sounded great. JD led them through a lot of their most recent album, The Great Divide, and sprinkled in some classic covers. The best was “Jessica,” the old Allman Brothers tune that, in my mind, is the greatest song ever written for summertime driving.
James Dolan, the band’s lead singer and founder, knows his limitations and defers to the band often. Always a good idea when you’re surrounded by a group of highly talented musicians. Erin Slaver on violin and vocals is particularly astute at not only sounding great herself, but making the whole group sound better with her soaring harmonies. Marc Copely, who plays lead guitar in the band, also deserves a lot of credit as a songwriter and producer.
Most of the songs I’d heard before, and the stories that go along with them. But one I was a little surprised by was the story behind “I Should’ve Known.” Passively listening you’d never know it, but it’s about Dolan’s friendship with Harvey Weinstein and finding out what a completely garbage human being he is when women began coming forward with their allegations of abuse. It’s sometimes hard for us to believe anything bad about friends we’ve know for a long time, and when it’s that bad I’m sure it’s even harder to comprehend. That said, Dolan made no excuses for Weinstein, instead looking inward to figure out how he didn’t see it over the years.
JD & The Straight Shot are bouncing around the country with Matt Costa on the Sirius XM Coffeehouse Tour. They’re headed toward the west coast for the rest of the month. You can find all the tour dates here.