Jimmy Nations Combo
young, talented guitarist and songwriter originally from North
Carolina, Jimmy Nations has quickly earned a strong rep on the
East Coast for his energetic, sweaty and fun live shows, pulling
off the neat trick of appealing to two-step boppers and honky-tonk
fans in equal measure.
the band's vintage threads and cowboy hats, the Jimmy Nations Combo
is not traditionalist in the typical hard-drinkin' Nashville mode.
Instead, Nations' band tilts toward a lighter touch, notably that
of Western swing genius Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys or followers
like Asleep at the Wheel. On this debut, Tarheel Boogie (Rubric
Records), Nations works with a crew of top New York/North Carolina
roots musicians, including Steve Earle, guitarist Eric "Roscoe"
Ambel, steel guitarist Skip Krevens, fiddle player Bob Mastro, and
producer Byron McKay. The Combo sets out confidently behind drummer
Greg Joseph's hard-driving swing on the opener "Do You Know"
and the statement-of-purpose Tarheel Boogie, but changes
pace adeptly with the aching "Getting Ready to Let You Down"
and the Tejano-influenced "I'll Never Feel That Way Again."
Throughout Tarheel Boogie, the Combo demonstrates its ability
to switch gears effortlessly. Percussionist Ray Duffey's drums
and marimba work on the goofy "Hayride to Hong Kong"
owes as much to Gene Krupa as Gene Autry, but a straight reading
of Wynn Stewarts' 1960 hit "Wishful Thinking" shows
the boys seriously know their Bakersfield history.
Jimmy Nations Combo doesn't worry too much about its country-swing
authenticity and neither should you. Instead, Nations' direct
approach works best by displaying a healthy sense of humor while
maintaining a respect for his audience's desire to have a good
time. We should all be so lucky.