“Everyone talks about rock these days; the problem is they forget about the roll.” – Keith Richards –
Walk-on music blared through the speakers as J Roddy Walston and The Business sauntered onto the stage at Trees like seasoned rockstars. From the moment Walston announced, “We’re here to play a little rock and roll for you,” to them closing out their encore set with their big single Heavy Bells, they completely owned the audience.
If a child were to tape photos of Lynyrd Skynyrd to his mirror, learn to dance from James Brown, and watch a black and white video of Jerry Lee Lewis every night before bed, and then grew up one day to start a band, that band would be J Roddy Walston & The Business. The Business is an incredibly tight group. The rhythm section is laser focused and locked in, the lead guitar just totally burns at all the right moments, and the harmonies are spot on. It is important to take a moment and pause to recognize how solid the core of the band is because that core is what gives Walston the ability to cut loose. Walston is an absolute beast on stage. I dare a photographer to snap a picture of the man where he doesn’t look like a swamped-out, rock and roll version of Cousin IT. His vocals are impeccable and have a swagger to them you just don’t hear in rock anymore. Songs like Don’t Break The Needle, Full Growing Man, and Marigold could have just as easily been written in 1973 but at the same time they don’t sound retro or vintage at all.
In previous reviews, I have complained about the lack of enthusiasm from Dallas audiences but I had a massive change of heart last night. The crowd rarely stopped jumping and dancing and when it looked like they might be slowing down, Walston asked everyone to dance with him and they started right back up. The Keith Richards quote above shows what a little focus on the roll will do to a crowd. Toss a dash of boogie back into the mix and people can’t help but move.
In this post-financial crisis America, people want a reason to dance and they want to be moved. There are precious few bands today that feel honest and have the ability to take a room of 20/30-somethings start jumping around like 1950’s teens hearing Bill Haley & The Comets for the first time. If you want to hear and see something that is simply real, go pick up a J Roddy Walston & The Business album and buy a ticket to the show next time they’re in town.