JD & The Straight Shot at Bridgestone Arena, March 23, 2018
Photo by Alisa B. Cherry
When you've achieved that certain rarified status that allows you to be chosen to open for the Eagles, you can probably consider that you’re well on your way to greater glories. In the case of JD & The Straight Shot and their performance last Friday night, March 23 supporting Henley, Frey, Schmitt, Walsh and company at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, that confidence was well warranted.
Although chances are that few in the crowd had any idea who the band was -- the fact that they were slated to go on at 7pm when the show was widely publicized to begin at 8 didn’t help to attract any additional interest.
Lead singer Jim Dolan acknowledged as much when he repeatedly thanked the crowd for coming out early and although there were plenty of empty seats, those that were there gave the six piece band an enthusiastic reception. Granted, they claimed to be Nashville residents, but then again, that’s certainly not uncommon. It likely had more to do with the fact that the Straight Shot are the epitome of everything that typifies modern country these days. Their music is upbeat and accessible with a natural homegrown delivery that’s both cohesive and compelling. They are, like a few others of their ilk -- Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Sugarland and practically anything one might choose to pluck from the soundtrack of the TV series “Nashville” -- a band that easily straddles the line between commercial country and the agreeable sounds that once formed the basis of easy listening radio.
Still, it’s clear that however agreeable their music might be, JD & the Straight Shot have sufficient skill to override any image of simply being purely proficient. The instrumental interplay is exceptional, with guitar, fiddle, banjo and standup bass making music that appears to be of the vintage variety while cloaked in a clearly contemporary sheen. Dolan is an amiable frontman and his ability to interact with the audience and his fellow musicians made him ideally qualified to be positioned at center stage. It’s a cohesive unit, and one easily gets the impression that their singer is able to anchor it all.
Their 10 song set boasted several songs from their current album, and not surprisingly they were the solid standouts. Tunes like “Redemption Train,” “Perdition,” “Better Find Me A Church” and “Under That Hood” underscored an ebullient approach with socially conscious themes that hinted at deeper meaning. “The Ballad of Jacob Marley,” an unexpected nod to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was a curious touch, a bit late for seasonal celebration and somewhat of a surprise as a result. Nevertheless, the band roused the audience with their final entry, an exuberant version of the old Three Dog Night favorite “Shambala,” a number that easily ensured a certain familiarity factor would remain intact.
Like any opening act, JD & the Straight Shot had to contend with the fact that the band people were there to see -- in this case -- the Eagles would likely make the fans forget their opening efforts by the time the headliner’s set was through. Nevertheless, they made a solid impression early on, and those that were there to witness it were given ample reason to remember.