Jay Clark and the Jones are a seven-piece outfit from Toronto who get their country music via the Replacements and the Rolling Stones in addition to the conventional sources. Despite an interesting lineage —  how many country-rock groups boast the presence of a Japanese harmonica virtuoso, Kenny Yoshioka, or a conga player, Jario Rodriguez, who’s a veteran of the Dominican Republic’s punk and metal scenes? — the Jones’ musical output hews closely to the template set by the “Outlaw Country” and California country rock movements of the early 70s (give or take the occasional use of a phaser by one of the band’s two guitarists).

But originality aside, the group has strong songs and excellent musical skills; their performance was very well received by the audience — particularly a rough and ready run through of the Stones’ 'Ms Amanda Jones'.

Pearlene are closely allied with the Soledad Brothers, a blues-fancying group regularly lumped in with the White Stripes and the Black Keys. Indeed, the Brothers’ Johnny Walker and Oliver Henry play on Pearlene’s studio albums. But on tour, the group was down to a three-piece: Singer guitarist Reuben Glaser, bassist Jesse Ebaugh and Hazen Fricke on drums.

While Fricke and Ebaugh provided some thundering rhythm, Glaser played amped-up country blues, with a lot of slidework. Songs by Charlie Patton and Blind Willie Johnson were resuscitated  at high volume. Coming as it did a day after Modey Lemon’s loud and blues-inspired performance, one couldn’t help but think the two bands would make good tourmates.

Glaser’s voice doesn’t really hold a note as well as it might, but his guitar does most of the talking for him anyway. I’ve rarely seen Ottawa audiences boogie about as a band plays, but Pearlene’s performance proved a rare exception, with a small but appreciative audience twisting about as Glaser and co. knocked out the riffs.

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Commenting On: Dominion Tavern, Ottawa, 30/10/2003 - Pearlene with Jay Clark and the Jones

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