Jerry Joseph | 03.25-03.27 | Big Sky Run

Words & Images by: Phil Santala

Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons :: 03.25.10 :: Knotty Pine :: Victor, ID
Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons:: 03.26.10-03.27.10 :: Whiskey Jack's :: Big Sky, MT

Jerry Joseph :: 03.26 :: Big Sky, MT
In a barnstorming blitz of ski towns Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons returned to the greater Yellowstone area in promotion of their new live album, Badlandia. Fresh off the heels of a successful Stockholm Syndrome tour (see JamBase's raves here), Jerry came out guns blazing, and firing on all cylinders.

Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon/Great American Taxi once called the Teton Valley the cultural center of the universe. The hub of that center would have be the Knotty Pine in Victor. "Fury" > "Frost Heaves" was a fitting combo for those of us who have lived in the valley and combated the deteriorating road conditions on Teton Pass this winter. But, it was the heavy handed "Hammer" followed later by "Soda Man" with an extended drum riff building the middle stanzas during the second set that really blew the hair back of those in attendance.

Just a few hours up the road, along a drive Jerry said he has enjoyed making much of his life, is where the band really hit their stride. Whiskey Jack's at the base of Lone Peak is just a few miles (as the crow files) from Bandito's, where Badlandia was recorded live last August. There must be something in the air or water in these parts that really gets the Jackmormons' gears a-grinding. The Friday show was electrifying, and the Saturday show absolutely blew the roof off of the place.

The pace in Big Sky was set early with the third song Friday night, "Drive," which often shows up in the tail end of a set, and typically a second set at that. I was able to witness a unique exchange during the "Altar in a Box" > "North" > "Altar in a Box." As Jerry led the bloodthirsty crowd into "North," chairs were practically bouncing off the walls. "Ask me if I give a...," cried out Jerry, as "...FUCK!" wailed back from the majority of the audience. The two guys in front of me were absolutely floored by this exchange. "Wow," one said to the other, "that's not the kind of sing-along you get at Phish!"

Jerry Joseph :: 03.27 :: Big Sky, MT
The treat Friday evening was the "Brother Michael" > "Big Sky Country" > "Presence of the Lord/Rama Cita jam" > "Brother Michael" combo. "Big Sky Country" is a song by Chris Whitley, whom Jerry Joseph toured with in 2002. Whitley, who passed away in 2005, was a big influence on Jerry, and the nod was appreciated by the audience. The locals know that Montana is "Big Sky Country," at least according to the state propaganda machine and our license plates. Hardcore Jerry Joseph fans from out of the area were also quick to point out that the song had not been played before to their knowledge, and if it had been covered, none in attendance had witnessed it. Another cover, Bob Marley's "One Drop," truly hit us from leftfield, rounding out Friday night nicely and propelling us ravenously into Saturday.

The capacity crowd at Saturday's sold out show was in for some treats, too. During the "Revelator" > "Second Skin" opener, Jerry broke a string on his well worn, workhorse, "Support Your Local Hell's Angels" guitar. He finished the first set on a new-looking blue substitute, though the sound remained pure Jerry. "Henry" featured magical teases from Whitley's "Big Sky Country" and The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" in the middle of "Whatever You Got in the Basket." But, it was the slow "Climb To Safety" that would really hold us over through set break.

Better still, the second set focused on music to get you though the night and not just a set break. The greater Yellowstone area - around Grand Teton National Park and all the surrounding mountains of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming - is the kind of place where life is like water. That's just how the three day run closed, too: "Kind of Place" > "Light is Like Water" > "2 Balloons" > "Light is Like Water." The combination got our feet moving before sending us out the door knowing that "Supper's Ready" down the "Hallelujah Trail."

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[Published on: 4/9/10]

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