This Little Underground: Norse Korea mini-fest highlights
Reviews of Lucero, Jonny Fritz, Me Chinese, the Welzeins, Turbo Fruits and more
Published: January 29, 2014
Memphis’ Lucero (Jan. 23-24, the Social) has built their devout Orlando fan base from the ground up, ultimately hitting the big time in 2012 by playing the Beacham. But longtime Lucero fans, a big slice of their Orlando following, became hooked on not just their music but also their live experience. In our case, that’s a history of legendary sets that bring you in close and go all night. So, though I was pleased that this deserving band had graduated to the big room, that show lacked something that we’ve become really attached and accustomed to as one of the cities that boarded the Lucero train very early on and gave them a second home – in spirit and, for a time, in person for singer Ben Nichols. That’s why a two-night engagement at the cozier Social was a smart move to restore that essential intimacy. Nothing will compare to the old days, but it was good to feel some of the soul again.
Opener Jonny Fritz is from Nashville, but this honky-tonker definitely recalls a country music era that’s much older – or perhaps younger and underground. He’s a bit of a character too, which nicely seasons his quirk-edged storytelling style. Formerly known as Jonny Corndawg, he thankfully traded in that unfortunate stage name recently for his real one and has since been garnering lots of positive press, buzz and serious road time with legit names like the Heartless Bastards, Alabama Shakes and, now, Lucero. Coincidence? Perhaps.
Live, he came acoustic and only accompanied by fiddler Josh Hedley, a technically skilled player who stroked the bow for Justin Townes Earle. The result was a little more bayou than his recordings set you up for. But the heart, melody and brass of his trad country translated, just peppered with some woozy Cajun vigor.
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