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Java Concert Letdown

18 February 2007
Artist_Name My_Rating
Stoll Vaughan 7/10 stars
Matthew Perryman Jones 8/10 stars
Jim James 1/10 stars
Patty Griffin 10/10 stars

I don’t normally write diatribes about concerts here in Birmingham, but last night’s extravaganza deserves some commentary.  With all the hoopla about the Reg’s Coffee House 10-Year Celebration, I had my hopes up.  I even convinced my better half to join me in a venture downtown.

First, I should point out that I had only heard one artist of the four taking the stage prior to last night.  Reg did a nice job introducing the night and making the obvious clear… Patty Griffin would take the stage last.  No matter, I thought, the audience seemed plenty pleased about two of the other performers.

Stoll Vaughan was up first.  When Reg announced his name in running through the lineup, no one so much as raised a voice or clapped two hands together in support of his visit to Birmingham.  He got a nice enough response from the crowd when he pointed out that a 12 hour trip turned into 20 to make it here from whence he started.  Surprisingly, he excited the audience and even held our attention.

After a quick 15 minute turnover of the stage, Matthew Perryman Jones hit the stage.  Short of Ms. Griffin, this was a highlight of the night.  His ensemble was tight and his songwriting skill was well developed.

The MOST PAINFUL performance I’ve ever sat through greeted us in the 3rd set of the evening.  Jim James crooned, wailed, and just about gave me a migrane.  It got so bad that I even offered to leave the theatre altogether and miss the very reason we came.  My wife was a saint and urged me to suffer through it with her.  Finally I couldn’t take it any longer and we escaped from our floor level seats to the busy lobby full of others who found nothing redeeming about Mr. James’ solo songs or style.  That said, there was a theatre full of screaming fans everytime he started a song they recognized.

We did, in fact, go back in for about 30 minutes of Patty Griffin’s set.  I regret that we had to leave and get home since the show had hit our cut-off time of 10:30pm to get home for the kids.  I still don’t know if it was worth the wait but I seriously question the validity of Jim James on the lineup.  I wonder if anyone else failed to enjoy the celebration as much as we did?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    23 February 2007 9:37 am

    We all have our opinions, and I respect yours, however, you should know that you are the only person I have ever heard say a single negative thing about a Jim James solo performance. I am obviously a fan, and therefore biased, but reading your review made me wonder, what is wrong with your ears?

  2. Tracy permalink
    23 February 2007 9:48 am

    Jim James has a band called My Morning Jacket. They hail from Louisville Kentucky and have a growing fan base. I’ve been into them for about 5 years now. The music is sincere and moves me and Jim James’ voice has a high lonesome feel that speaks to my soul. I respect the fact that you did not connect to his songs. I think it’s rude to trash a guy who others adore and other musicians praise (ex: Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart invited the boys to perform with the Boston Symphony. Go here> http://www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/articles/2006/05/26/morning_jacket_pops_team_up_in_style/). So, you didn’t get it and it ruined your night? You know, part of reporting on muisc is being able to see what all the other fans are getting that you’re not b/c the bottom line is why are they all excited; not why you’re not. If you don’t get it, then it might be you.

  3. 23 February 2007 2:52 pm

    hmmm, I really enjoyed Jim’s set. In fact, I thought it was fantastic. Different strokes for different folks I guess. It seemed to me that everyone enjoyed it, but of course I wasn’t hanging out in the lobby while he was playing…

  4. Curtis McCubbin permalink
    23 February 2007 2:53 pm

    What kind of music do you like? Jim James fronts one of the most creative and dynamic bands, My Morning Jacket, that exist in the world today. His voice is short of angellic. Not many male vocalists can hit notes that high! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to say it was dreadful is somewhat hard to understand. Why did you dislike it so much?

  5. 24 February 2007 10:28 am

    In answer to the commentors… first, thanks for speaking up. I don’t normally (as the intro states) opine about a particular performance, but Tracy I was NOT reporting on how the audience received a performer. The evening was my pain and that’s what I presented in this post.

    Regarding my style of music. I love listening to music that is out of the mainstream. I really enjoy the general lineup of a show like Reg’s Coffehouse. It reflects my listening taste. But IMHO Mr. James did not live up to his billing that night. I can only imagine that those who know him, who love him, and who know his songs heard what they wanted to hear and not what a new set of ears heard.

    To clarify my lobby comment… it’d be a conservative guess to say that 10% of the paying public was hanging out there and not interested in Jim James. I can’t say how many people left mid-set because I was *trying* to enjoy the performance and couldn’t glance around the theatre when I was applying pressure to my temples as he hit the high notes (thanks Curtis McCubbin for reminding me).

  6. Casey Smith permalink
    24 February 2007 3:09 pm

    One day I hope you get it. Just like day when people “got” Bob Dylan, just like the day when people “got” that music is progressive and isn’t supposed to sound the same. Trust me, I didn’t get Jim James at first – and trust me, it’s not easy to get. But once you get it, the world stops for a second and you’re able to catch up to all the perfect beauty in the world and join it with open arms. I would have given anything to have been there – consider yourself lucky to have seen our generations greastest song writer share a stage with such wonderful artists.

    PS. My Morning Jacket played 3 nights at the Fillmore in S.F. (the most prestigious venue in the US) – a bid any band would have taken if GIVEN the chance. Thats special! try to open your ears and hope that you can understand the beauty.

  7. Laurie permalink
    1 March 2007 8:50 am

    All the artists are fantastic in their own way, and each has a pretty good, solid, fanbase. I am always disappointed to read or hear, though, when an artist is unknown get a) people who show up late and completely miss them b) give them a lukewarm, if any, welcome. And then to say “Surprisingly, he excited the audience and even held our attention.”..Why should that be Surprising? Just because no one there had heard of him yet. There’s a reason Reg chose him to be a part of that amazing group of songwriters and performers. I’m talking about Stoll Vaughan. Look him up and see the bands and musicians he’s been performing and playing with recently.

    I’m also a huge fan of Matthew Perryman Jones (incredible CD!), Jim James (many have said what I feel as well), and of course Patty Griffin. I applaud Reg for an outstanding lineup of STARS, and wish I could have been there for that show.

  8. 26 July 2008 8:10 pm

    I actually was not there and have personally never heard of Jim James and this is an old post but I just thought it was amusing at how personally everyone took your critique. Like somehow you had insulted them personally. I have found that many times musicians sound better on c.d. than live and sometimes people just have eclectic taste. It doesn’t mean you have to like it. Now, I will check out this Jim James and see how it sounds. When it comes to Reg’s coffee house stuff, I am usually dissappointed in general. His personality is a bit bland but at least he plays something different. I also respect that fact that he is showing Coldplay some love (an unpopular stand). Enough of my ramblings.

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