Newcomer to the Atlanta music scene, City Winery, hosted punk rock icon John Doe and his band on Monday June 20th. This was only the fourth show for the Ponce City Market venue which CEO Micheal Dorf describes as catering to “an aging demographic of wine lovers who also love music and want to go out in an environment that’s a little classier.” Whether this is the sort of environment to see a grizzled punk veteran like Doe, or to witness the hard-charging blues-infused honky-tonk of opener Jesse Dayton is a matter of personal taste.
What matters most is that Doe and his band – the aforementioned Dayton on guitar, Americana siren Cindy Wasserman (Dead Rock West) on vocals, Austin, Texas bassist Chris Rhoades and Doe’s X bandmate, DJ Bonebrake, on drums/percussion – delivered a riveting set of music which spanned Doe’s storied career. You know it’s going to be a great show when the band looks like they’re having the time of their lives – and Doe and his bandmates, on the 16th straight night of their tour, looked just so. The lion’s share of the set consisted of material from Doe’s new, critically acclaimed album, The Westerner. Highlights include “Go, Baby, Go”, “My Darling, Blue Skies”, “Drink of Water”, “Sunlight” and the Exene Cervenka-penned weeper “Alone in Arizona”. Interspersed were past Doe originals as well as covers of X songs, notably “Burning House of Love” (Doe must really love this song, as it appears on both the 1985 X album “Ain’t Love Grand” and on The Knitters 2005 Album “The Modern Sounds of the Knitters”) as well as “The New World” and “4th of July”. The latter, Doe noted wryly: “People ask for in the winter. Strange. It’s not a Christmas song.”
Dayton is a formidable guitarist, equally adept at traditional country riffs and stratosphere-reaching “Psychedelic Soul”. Wasserman is every bit the California-Country vocalist recalling Gram Parsons-era Emmylou Harris, whose voice marries well in harmony with Doe. Rhoades and Bonebrake provided a sturdy, creative and sometimes whimsical rhythm section. On the whole Doe and CO. did an outstanding job of entertaining a good-for-a-Monday-night crowd with their combination of heartfelt “quiet” ballads and “loud” barnburners (Doe namechecked both The Pixies and Nirvana as inspirations for the quiet-loud-quiet formula) and the City Winery provided an excellent sounding room to host it.
Photos by Hillery Terenzi