J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004


J. and Jim White outside Local 506, Carborro, North Carolina - 17th August 2004 (Credit: Bruce Martin)

For only the second of the five times I've been blessed with seeing Jim White live, he brought a band with him. Hot on the heels of the June release of his latest album, Drill a Hole in that Substrate and Tell Me What You See, Jim rolled into Local 506 in Carborro. Jim normally winds up playing at the now closed Go Room 4, and this was actually my first foray into the confines of 506, but it's a nice place.

Opener and local, Shannon O'Conner, put on a beautiful display of simple and touching songs. Her voice is as impressive as it is unique, channeling a strong and thoughtful nature. Her set was short and sweet but included some real grin-inducing and clever insertions of parts of more well-known songs for emphasis on the subject matter. Her closing number, a rumination on time spent as a single mother after the (unclear) departure of her child's father, opened with a verse lifted from the classic Carter Family track "Single Girl, Married Girl." All in all an artist to keep an ear out for in the future.

Jim, on the other hand, was absolutely astounding with a full band again. As entertaining, diverse and challenging as his solo shows are (his standards often take off-roads into territory that leave them sounding nothing like their recorded counterparts), hearing the songs, especially from the new album, in their more familiar tones is nice from time to time. Twists and turns still abounded however. "Combing My Hair in a Brand New Style," a dark, slow-burn funk and jazz fueled number from his latest, became an even more foot-stomping song in the vision of the live band. "Take Me Away," a number Jim has been playing live for the past couple of years that has yet to make its way onto a release, took on new significance with the thrilling sax playing of band member Paul Fonfara. Paul's playing also made "Buzzards of Love" (one of my very, very favorites from the newest album) into one of the night's most thrilling moments. As the shrill sax built into the connundrum of the onrushing song, it seemed easy to become lost in the wave of sound.

For the long time fans, the always-welcome "Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi" made an appearance along with the (slightly rare - at least in my experience) "Sleepy Town" from Jim's debut solo album, Wrong-eyed Jesus.

Easily one of the best shows I've been to thus far this year from a man who has repeatedly amazed me with his diverse and unique talent, as frequent as he has blessed the Old North State, I'd advise you not let a chance to see him slip by again.

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