Let me just come right out and say it. East Nashville’s 5 Spot is where it is all happening. If you want to see Music City’s best local musicians perform at their creative best in an intimately comfortable venue with spectacular sound, The 5 Spot is the place to be. There’s also the double bonus that the cover charge is cheap and some of the best shows start at the old age friendly hour of 6pm which gets you home by 8:30. However, let’s all just keep this secret to ourselves, and hope this great room doesn’t fall into the same misfortune as the now tourist-laden Bluebird.
The latest 6pm residency at The 5 Spot is that of Jason Ringenberg, a Nashville legend who belongs in both in the Country and Rock Music Halls of Fame. With Warner Hodges on blistering guitar, the late Perry Baggs harmonizing while he played drums, and Jeff Johnson holding down a solid steady bass, in the 80s, Jason & the Scorchers set the music world on fire. Whatever you want to call it, cow-punk or alternative country, rock met country like never before, and this band was about as influential as any other to come out of Music City.
In the often-unfair music world, while the Scorchers had their moment, they never achieved the fame that they deserved and that some of their peers attained. However, they still play together on occasion, and their maniacal whirling dervish of a lead singer, Jason Ringenberg, has produced a worthy solo career as a singer-songwriter for both grown-ups and children (in his Farmer Jason persona). Through this all, despite having to take a day job, to this day, he’s undoubtedly one of the most kind, thoughtful and happiest musical artists I’ve ever come across.
Jason recently ended an almost ten-year recording for grown-ups’ gap with the release of Stand Tall, a fine new solo LP that was zealously fan-funded. To celebrate the release, Jason will be playing all by his lonesome for the four Thursdays in February. I was honored to be there this past Thursday for the first night and will be back.
The social media buzz for these shows was sizzling and yours truly made sure to arrive early enough for the 5:30pm door opening. Surprisingly, there was no line at the door, just me and another fan who didn’t know what to expect. I happily paid my measly $5 cover charge that got me a seat right up in front where I would soon receive two hours of the best entertainment I’ve had in a long time.
With the room eventually filling, but not busting out like I expected, Jason started a little on the early side for the 6pm 5 Spot show (6:05) and proceeded to perform two sets of music.
The first set surprisingly only saw two Stand Tall songs and instead was buoyed by a crowd-pleasing assortment of Scorchers tunes. Alone with just his guitar, “analog” music stand, cowboy hat and boots, Ringenberg was a swirling ball of energy with a left-leg kick so high that he could probably almost touch the ceiling if he tried. His crystal-clear vocals rose above his strong guitar playing, and he had the room eating out of his hands.
Ringenberg prefaced the new songs with the tale of how they were written as part of an artist-in-residency program at the Sequoia National Park. He also set the stage that the second set would include requests with a prize given to the most obscure request placed in the jar. The only rule was that it had to be a song that either he or the Scorchers have recorded or played live at least once.
After a short break, Jason revealed that he was so excited about the requests he received that the second set would be all requests. (Below you can see what he played.) The winner, who received a dozen eggs from Jason’s chicken farm, made the odd-choice of Teletubbies theme. (At least is was short.) My favorite however was R.E.M.’s “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville” which not only got us a great version of the song, but a great story about the mutual love and friendship between this band and the Scorchers.
Speaking of other bands, for me the night would not have been complete without hearing “God Bless The Ramones” from the new record. Again, another great memory told about one of the best bands of the day who never really got what they deserved.
So, do yourself a favor and whatever it takes, get to The 5 Spot for one or all of the three remaining February 6pm Thursday night shows. And I’d get their early because the buzz is gonna build about how great this show is and that small room is gonna get mighty crowded!
- Victory Drive
- Shop it Around
- I’m Walking Home
- Rebel Flag in Germany
- Oh, Lonesome Prairie
- For Addie Rose
- John the Baptist Was a Humdinger
- Help, There is a Fire
- Insurgent Country
- Absolutely Sweet Marie (Bob Dylan cover) [WATCH HERE]
- Mona Lee
- Life of the Party
- Are You Ready for the Country? (Neil Young cover)
- (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville (R.E.M. cover)
- Somewhere Within
- Teletubbies Theme Song (cover)
- Shotgun Blues
- White Lies
- Harvest Moon
- God Bless The Ramones
- Broken Whiskey Glass
Jason Ringenberg – Vocals and Acoustic Guitar