By Chet Eagleman
Collegiate Staff Writer
Roots rock performer JD McPherson was pretty sure a cold which had dogged him for a week was turning the corner. But even a few sniffles couldn’t undermine his enthusiasm about playing a sold out show in nearby Tulsa OK just a couple of miles from hometown in Broken Arrow.
“It will be kind of a reunion because I haven’t played in Tulsa in a couple of years,” McPherson said. “I haven’t played in Tulsa with his new outfit yet. It’s going to be interesting to see who comes out.”
And if the sold out show that night wasn’t enough to get McPherson stoked, he could get just as excited about his first US tour which makes a stop in Grand Rapids on Dec 9 at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill.
When we talked guitarist/singer McPherson and his band had been enjoying the comforts of home at his house in the Tulsa area by sleeping in, making a homemade breakfast, and watching Sponge Bob.
“We were in Spain for two weeks, then home for a week, and now were starting this tour,” McPherson said. “This is the first proper US tour of getting in the van and being gone for a week or two. We’ve played a couple of shows in Chicago, a couple in New York City and Boston but that’s about it. I love playing in the states. We are going from Chicago down to Austin and back. The middle of the country is our neck of the woods so we’re starting here.”
What the crowds across the Midwest are amassing for is McPherson’s own brand of early R&B and high octane rockabilly blues. Not bad for a kid who grew up listening to punk music.
“I’ve always been consumed with music,” McPherson said. “I was interested in the ethnomusicology side of things and the tribal cultures that develop within popular music. The most tribal music of all was the punk stuff. Every band had their own thing. Minor Threat were these (Washington) DC clean living guys who were straight edgers. They played really intense music but were clean living type of individuals. Bad Brains were all black guys, Rastafarian’s, and they used to be jazz musicians. Now they play hardcore music because it’s the new form. Plus when you’re a teenager you’re looking for something to be involved in and this is something to be angry about. Punk rock is the music for those type of people. It’s fun and energetic; the Ramones are great and super catchy.”
McPherson says this independent fiery spirit was evident in the early R&B they incorporate into their sound.
“The old rock and roll had a lot in common with that stuff: it’s very enthusiastic and high energy especially the Little Richard, Larry Williams, and the New Orleans rhythm and blues,” McPherson said. “It has a lot of style and joie de vivre (joy of life). And that what’s we try to do each night.”