Jerry Joseph | 08.15 - 08.17 | MT

Words & Images by: Phil Santala

Jerry Joseph :: 08.15.08 – 08.17.08 :: Banditos Bar :: Virginia City, MT

Jerry Joseph :: 08.15 :: Virginia City, MT
Virginia City, Montana. Never heard of it either, huh? Before last weekend I couldn't even have pointed it out on a map. This off the beaten path tourist trap remnant of the Old West is where Jerry Joseph made his last stand of the summer. This was, with good reason too, because Virginia City and the Banditos Bar are both classic examples of the best kind of "America-cana;" "Montana-cana" style. Proprietor Scott Kelly and the town of Virginia City may both be a little off the usual road, but both welcomed Jerry and his fans like we'd been there all our lives.

The now annual event has been a natural progression for Joseph and the Banditos Bar. Skeptical, Jerry played one night in 2005. Two nights were subsequently booked for '06 and '07. The inaugural third "Acoustic Dinner" show was added to the event for the 2008 run.

Being at a Jerry Joseph show these days is like listing to a static filled AM radio station. While the melody of the tune is ever present, there are times the beats and lyrics of other artists creep in and over the top of his songs. This make you wonder, was that Salt-n-Pepa's "Lets Talk About Sex" in the middle of "Savage Garden?" Pink Floyd's "Dogs" barking their way into the "North" > "Nicaragua" > "North" on Saturday night, along with Eric Clapton's "Let it Flow," which soaked into "Both of You." Sunday's mash-up pre-encore "Drive" was so long that it should have been called "Commute." Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" was present, and so was the unexpected and outlandishly placed Terrance Trent Darby song "Wishing Well."

Jerry Joseph :: 08.16
Don't get me wrong, it's not just the placement of covers and raps that surprised and floored me during the weekend. Time and time again, the fluidity and ease with which both JR Ruppel and Steve Drizos followed the trickling steam and raging torrent of Jerry's singing and heavy guitar riffs struck me. The band's manipulation of their songs was beautiful and poetic. "Ho Chi Minh" off The Denmark Veseys self-titled debut was played for the first time on Friday coupled with the mantra chanting of "Shalom Salam" and the fast paced, heavy hitting "Road To Damascus." It was played for the second time on Saturday in a jam featuring "Ray of Heaven" and Aesop Rock's "None Shall Pass." It was during Sunday's acoustic "Ho Chi Minh" that I really heard its biting lyrics jump out at me: "When you lick your American hero stamps, don't forget John Walker Lynn."

Saturday came together slow, but built up its moment like a freight train. Closing out the second set was a brilliant "Conscious Contact" > "Rama Sita" > "Amazing Grace" > "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" > "Conscious Contact" jam fest. The "Amazing Grace" wasn't the Jerry Joseph version, but an arrangement of the traditional. It was prophetically placed in a song about higher powers, about attachments beyond the here and now. The Van Halen cover left me scratching my head but still shakin' my hips. The rap during "Conscious Contact" was a throwback for sure. This rap has gone thru some changes, and this one was the closest to the one I fell in love with circa 2002. It was all there, "many kinds of fruits and vegetables... and Mexican black tar heroin... headed for a new life up north of the border." The rap slowly built, began to flow and ebb with Jerry scratching out the rhythm on his guitar. Then like a flood with "it's not all good, and it's not supposed to be," it began to run over the banks of the river and wash over us. When the song slowed down for this rap it was truthful and magical, and when it took off again out of this rap with the "it's all we've got... hell, I say just give it up... hand over the wheel" portion, the torrent was absolutely bloodthirsty. This is perhaps one of the most powerful and moving slow to fast transitions out there. Its' easily up there with the stuff in Traffic's "Low Spark" or the Widespread Panic blow-out "Postcard."

A slow tempo "Speedwater" closed out the second night. Slowing down this tune is like putting the brakes on a freight train - when it hits you it's not gonna make much of a difference. Chemicals, for all their wondrous glory, have cut a destructive path through many people's lives. They can change you, just like Jerry changed the lyrics "sometimes the stand on the side of the righteous just stinks" to "sometimes the painkillers, they just make the pain feel worse." That's when "Speedwater" hit for me, and man, it hit hard. Well, at least when music hits you feel no pain.

Mosley, Drizos, Joseph :: 08.17 :: Montana
The third night started off with The Denmark Veseys playing acoustic. This scene was a little weird, with about 30 people choosing to sit down in front of the stage. "World Will Turn" with Panic's "Porch Song" wedged into it was enthusiastically received; a real treat because Panic does cover Jerry Joseph all the time but I've never heard/seen it go the other way around. Stockholm Syndrome has played "Airplane" as a tip of the hat to the late, beloved Mikey Houser, but that's about it.

Bret Mosley, is according to Jerry, "one of greatest songwriters I've met in a long time." He joined the band onstage for the second half of the first set, and the beginning of the second set. Over the course of the weekend he helped write "Mile High, Mile Deep," which premiered as the second set opener Sunday night. "We Will Go Down" was jammed into "Good Sunday," which somehow turned into The O'Jays' hit "Love Train." The aforementioned 20-minute "Drive" jam closed out the second set, and had a few of us commenting, "Never, never miss a Sunday show!" At one point during the climax of the night and the weekend Jerry was so moved he took off his guitar and waded out into the audience "just looking for the love" and hugging anyone he could gets his hands on.

Jerry may be a self-proclaimed "hero to some, villain to others," but in the Banditos Bar for three hot August nights he was a hero to all. "With rising gas prices and middle age staring you in the face," Jerry explained how life on the road can start to take its toll. Far away places with names like "Deathpoint" can start to take their toll. Rooms of people who couldn't care less that you are pouring your heart out onstage and sweating like a pig doing it, all start to take their toll. Before the third night encore, Jerry thanked those in attendance, for being there for this weekend with him. It was from the bottom of his heart. It was touching, it was eloquent and it was totally unnecessary. His joy, his gift, his thanks to us was evident and obvious. Jerry Joseph poured his heart out for three nights, and left it all on the stage, every thought, every thanks, every feeling, and that feeling, well, "it's what I live for."

JamBase | Montana
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 8/26/08]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



crazynate Wed 8/27/2008 05:14PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nice review, love Jerry and you never know what you are going to get at one of his shows. Love to get my hands on these shows.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/28/2008 03:47AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

yeah Jerry J is the man. he lays down some sick ass rock.

I went into a show after a WSP show he sat in on. and he was TEARING IT UP, segueing songs both sets. it was very nasty. His style of lead guitar is like rhythm-lead. love it.

the Horse starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/28/2008 06:30AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

the Horse

Jerry J is the man for sure, glad to see this run get a review here. I got to say, the Jerry and Friedns show at last year's Christams Jam was one of the highlight of the whole frickin weekend and it was not even part of the events at the Civic Center.

By the way, the Christmas Jam will be absolutely one of the best weekends of music in the entire year of 2008.

dontpanic56 Thu 8/28/2008 07:49AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Bowlegged Texan Thu 8/28/2008 11:08AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Bowlegged Texan

Excellent review.

cbd starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/28/2008 02:20PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great review. Those changed lyrics you heard in Speedwater are actualy a line taken from The Hold Steady song "Chip's Ahoy":

I got a girl and she don't have to work

She can tell which horse is gonna finish in first

Some nights the painkillers make the pain even worse

And for a while after Mikey died, Jerry played full versions of Airplane, You Got Yours & Vacation

nuke_ticketbastard starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 12:13PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

great review - sounds like JJ was in full force !

cbd - good call on the hold steady nod :-)

stinkyspanky Fri 8/29/2008 07:30PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I have been to all the Virgina City shows that Jerry has done (except I missed Vessey show Sunday night, no babysitter)and can honestly say it is the highlight of my Montana summer. Each year it seems the energy and buzz surrounding the shows grow and the band soaks it up more and more each time they return. The location and vibe of VC is unlike any other place around. If you get a chance to go do not hesitate. If you listen to the Saturday nightshow Jerry even mentions that VC is the bands "favorite place to play in the world". I was floored when I heard that, seeing as he has played all over the world and at some outstanding venues. Don't miss your chance to see him here next year, it is well worth the travel and time. Jerry and VC FTW!

keeferdog Sat 8/30/2008 12:50PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great review. Did you go to the show to write a review for jambase or did you go and then decide to write something up and submit it to jambase?

barnylee starstarstarstar Fri 9/5/2008 10:20AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nice review...looking forward to the 8x10 residency shows that start in Baltimore this monday...w/ Cris Jacobs and Kenny Liner from the Bridge joining in!

jibber02 starstarstarstarstar Mon 9/15/2008 09:39AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great review Phil! You're a heck of a writer, the Melvin Seals New Years story was excellent as well. I nominate you for head Montana jam scene reporter! Wish I would have went to these shows, I will not miss them next year.