Looking at Hogjaw singer/guitarist Jonboat Jones in his trucker hat and hiding behind his beard at the start of this show, you are struck by the thought that he’s one of those people that could only do the job he does.
He – and the rest of the boys in Hogjaw to be fair – are a band so steeped in the sound they belong to from the Allman Brothers to Skynyrd and everything else in between – that I’m willing to bet that if they weren’t here tonight, they’d be somewhere where the beer and whiskey was flowing and a band like them was playing.
Then you look at Jones at the end of the gig 90 minutes later. Hat soaked in sweat, beaming. And you realise why it is Hogjaw that are here: and that’s because it’s just right.
“Lets have some fun” Jones had said at the start of the night. Partly, you suspect, to the audience – smallish, but enthusiastic – and partly to the band.
That sets the vibe for what follows. “Where Have You Gone” is actually like a lot of them in that it sounds harder edged, a touch more gritty, perhaps, than on record. “Brown Water” from this year’s UK breakthrough “Way Down Yonder” likewise.
But if the stage is clearly their natural habitat, then they are hewn from the rock of their homeland. “North Carolina Way” sung by lead man Jimmy Rose, is a real highlight and it is a feature that each member of the band takes a turn in the spotlight. Drummer Kwall (who is feeling under the weather) provides vocals on the cowbell infused “Am I Wrong” and they both prove to be thoroughly talented.
“I Will Remain” comes from the Arizona mountain air, “Never Surrender” rails against the modern world. And that’s all fine and dandy, but they all have to give way to the stunning “County Line” – which concludes with an absolutely thunderous jam session worthy of Gov’t Mule.
New song “One Chance To Follow” and the title track of “….Yonder” follow, while “This Whiskey” is a tasty end.
Not a night for encores – and not a band who thinks they’re rock stars – instead this was merely a celebration of something wonderful happening thousands of miles from where Hogjaw are from, but with music that is completely universal.