Black Oak Arkansas staged a triumphant return to Los Angeles at the world famous Whisky a Go-Go last Tuesday, September 20. Newly re-signed to Atlantic Records, the band came to the Southern California area to promote the release of Back Thar N’ Over Yonder, due out October 15.
Black Oak – fronted by original members Jim “Dandy” Mangrum and Rickie “Ricochet” Reynolds – opened the set with their single “Plugged In and Wired” from the soon-to-be released LP. Next up was the gritty southern stomp of “Hot Rod,” a stylistic blueprint for rockers like Van Halen and Guns N’ Roses.
During one of many heartfelt moments, Jim reminded us of long-lost rock heroes (drummer Johnnie Bolin is the brother of late guitarist extraordinaire Tommy Bolin) and dedicated a show-stopping cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Heartbreaker” to former Black Oak vocalist Ruby Starr, who passed away in the 1995. Lynette Skynyrd vocalist Laurie Es, who is uncannily similar to Starr in looks and stage presence, provided the necessary call-back to the band’s familiar 70’s hit, “Jim Dandy”.
Newer members departed the stage leaving Black Oak founders Jim and Rickie to sit out for a mid-show acoustic set featuring the bluegrass-tinged “Sweet Delta Water” (another from the forthcoming release) and fan favorite “High and Dry”. Black Oak rounded out the set with “Hot & Nasty”, “Jim Dandy” and a passionate cover of the Dylan penned “I Shall Be Released”, also included in the Memphis recording sessions for the new LP.
To order “Back Back Thar N’ Over Yonder” on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/BackThar
Special thanks To Ralph Bennett for his help with this review.