(photo from Rolling Stone)
#39 JD MCPHERSON (THURSDAY)
All you need to know about seeing JD McPherson is that the recordings hide nothing— he’s really just that good. Flanked by a five-piece brass ensemble, one wouldn’t guess that thirty-six-year-old McPherson spent his twenties in and out of southern punk bands, getting a degree in visual arts, and working as an art teacher, but the success of debut Signs and Signifiers seems to have changed his tune. In retrospect, making the switch to roots music may have been his best call thus far, and he’s made everyone’s list for best throwback sound with vocals undeniably made for the genre.
These vocals are nothing without his electric guitar married to the alto and baritone saxes, some keys, and a trombone solo here and there during his Thursday afternoon set. Instead of adding songs to the set to meet his hour, McPherson opted to give and take extended solos in now-signature tracks like “North Side Gal” and “Firebug”, always quick with the southern charm between songs. “Mighty happy to be here,” he said with a genuine flash of teeth while a trombone tuned.
JD McPherson isn’t the high profile favorite he deserves to be yet, but remained one of the biggest names of the Bonnaroo Thursday bill and the perfect thing to get a whole crowd up and moving to some good old fashioned Americana, a genre largely missed out on amidst a sea of synth.