Review: JD and the Straight Shot Bust Out Country Blues At The Rose

By: James Dronzek – Staff Writer

JD and the Straight Shot did not disappoint as an opening act, as many members of its audience rose to give the band a standing ovation following their 10-song set. 

On Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Rose Music Center in Huber Heights, the country blues outfit opened up for The Doobie Brothers, a gig in which lead vocalist and guitarist James Dolan said they have been playing for five consecutive years.

Seats at the outdoor amphitheater were just about filled ten minutes before the 8:00 p.m. show time, as a moody pink light shined on the stage, giving the audience a glimpse of what was to come. Acoustic guitars, a banjo, a bass, drums and a violin were set up and ready to go, as some mellow rock music played in the background.

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When Dolan and his fellow performers came out, they did little to give members of the crowd an excuse ignore the opening act.

They opened with “Never Alone,” a track from their latest album, “Good Luck and Good Night.” This slow, quiet song foreshadowed some of the problems that JD and the Straight Shot would face throughout the night.

Their main issue that was a recurring theme throughout the show was Dolan’s inability to harmonize with “The Straight Shot.” Other musicians in the band – guitarist Marc Copely, violinist Erin Slaver, and guitarist Liz Lawrence – sang at a higher pitch than Dolan. A lack of other more baritone voices beside Dolan made his harmonizing efforts offsetting during many of the songs’ choruses.

A minor quirk that also begged mention was Dolan’s over-explanation of certain tracks. While the song being performed seeks value from their lyrical content, Dolan would often bore the crowd with long-winded summaries of certain songs, such as “Glide” and “The Ballad of Jacob Marley.”

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However, the second song of the set, “Praying for Salvation,” was the epitome of all that JD and the Straight Shot did to please the audience. The tempo sped up drastically for this country jam, and Erin Slaver, one of the group’s seven members, stood out with an exciting violin solo that produced a much louder applause from the crowd than the band got following the first track.

Slaver stole the show, and she was given the crowd’s approval following each of her electrifying solos, especially on songs “Run for Me” and “Glide.” Lawrence and Copley also had their standout moments on guitar, most notably during “Perdition.”

Despite his problems harmonizing, Dolan handled most of the vocals during the performance and did very well. As the show went on, it even seemed that Dolan was able to get in tune with the rest of the vocalists, especially on the closing song, “Shambala,” a Three Dog Night cover.

With it’s fair share of ups and downs, JD and the Straight Shot was a capable opening act for a great night of music.

Photo Courtesy of Kristin Barlowe