Photo by SAMANTHA FRANKLIN
BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE INQUIRER I have seen the future of the past, and his name is J.D. McPherson, a thirtysomething cuffed-denim Okie with lacquered hair, iron lungs and, goodness gracious, great balls of fire. McPherson and his gifted retro-rock posse recently released Signs & Signifiers, a bracing collection of tailfin rockabilly, rawboned R&B and sultry moonstruck balladeering. It is hands-down the feel-good record of the year.
McPherson’s star has been rising steadily ever since. NPR and WXPN have taken up his cause, he’ll be on Letterman December 4th, and he sold out Johnny Brendas almost as soon as the show was announced months ago. Friday night, he tore the roof off the joint.
McPherson was in peak form, sliding effortlessly from shredding growl to velvet croon, and making his banana yellow Fender guitar juke, jive and duckwalk with period-channeling vibe and precision. Backed by a crack four-piece — burlesque house sax, hellfire piano, slamming drums and de rigueur upright bass — McPherson and co. mixed flawless renditions of Signs’ choice cuts (“North Side Gal,” “Firebug” and “Country Boy”) with surprisingly eclectic covers (Don & Dewey’s “Farmer John,” Joe Barry’s “I’m A Fool To Care,” and Bo Diddley’s “You Don’t Love Me”). It was hands-down the feel-good show of the year. Rest assured the past is in good hands. MORE