I first saw Jared James Nichols at the Down and Out in 2012. He played a show with Prima Donna and The Hangmen. Talk about a killer show! Prima Donna and The Hangmen are a couple of my all-time favorite bands to see live. Hell, throw in Cheap Trick and call it a festival and I’ll be in heaven tonight. A decade ago I posted a picture of what I declared to be my new favorite band and that I thought Jared James sounded like Robin Trower meets Mountain. I’ve never saw Mountain live, but I have seen Robin Trower and he’s super dreamy and drooly, but that’s okay. So is Jimmy Page.
I was always hearing that Jared was doing well and he’s been busy playing with some big talent and has even opened for the great ZZ Top. Turned out he was playing at The Peppermint Club near Cedars and next to what used to be Jerry’s Deli and rumor had it that George Thorogood was going to sit in for a song. I’ll tell ya now, George couldn’t make it. Rather disappointed he was a no show because as soon as I heard he might be playing, I immediately had to listen to some John Lee Hooker records while I lamented over the time I missed seeing George Thorogood open for Ted Nugent. That ship has long sailed since I ain’t paying to go to that Ted talk and Mr. Thorogood is in his mid-70s and doesn’t seem to be playing live anymore.
This was my first time at The Peppermint Club and I can best describe the venue in three words: Available for Filming. It has a really warm design with a heavy ‘70s vibe but instead of a bowl full of quaaludes or keys there was a bowl of – you guessed it – peppermints! Oddly, I didn’t have any which is shocking because I LOVE free candy from strangers. The club did have a bit of the ‘too close to La Cienega’ Beverly Hills vibe complete with a guy wearing an “I heart Sluts” trucker hat that just screamed Paris Hilton ‘The Simple Life’ era Kitson. Totally nice place but couldn’t quite figure out how the DJ managed to remove Angus Young from AC/DC when playing them between the bands.
The first band sounded great and had a solid crowd. My husband really liked the guitar player. Although I was making a note on my phone (which unfortunately was not of the band’s name) as they were tearing down when I heard my husband comment, “ya that guy looks like he drives the van” and I was so bummed I couldn’t figure out which one he was talking about. He also wondered why the drummer for Jared James Nichols needed two floor toms but I stood up for the drummer and said of course he does.
Jared James Nichols hit the stage just wailing and the only thing I was missing was the press of about 20,000 more bodies and the immediate lighting up of a ton of pot to have felt the full force of this incredibly rockin’ machine. The drummer was solid but also kinda like the anti-Charlie Watts, in that he was smiling. CONSTANTLY. Now for whatever reason, there were a ton of professional cameras there. Like a WHOLE lot. And they were organized. It was a release show for his new self-titled album which they were playing top to bottom, so maybe they were getting band shots and the drummer wanted to be smiling in them. A bit later the drummer was introduced as being from Sweden. So then I realized of course this dude’s smiling, lucky bastard has never had to worry about healthcare.
The material was great and did not require being familiar with to keep you grooving. The power trio’s bass player was described as an Italian cowboy. But his Iron Maiden shirt and his style of playing showed a definite appreciation for Steve Harris. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that when they were closing with a couple covers that the first one was “War Pigs.” I tell ya kids, if you wanna get a sing-a-long going between a whole bunch of middle-aged people, crank some Sabbath. I turned around to my husband and tried to gesture something like, “see the drummer does need two floor toms” as that happy guy was channeling some deep love for Bill Ward.
Funny, thing was after the show I was talking to Mr. Nichols and I commented about the floor toms and he said that he actually never does that but two were offered so he took two, something that apparently had warranted a bit of discussion. He stopped and leaned in to ask, “Wait? Did he actually play them both?” And I was able to share that while I hadn’t seen him use them the whole show when they got into “War Pigs” those floor toms were pounding like bombs on Birmingham. SO thunderous and a completely legit reason to keep hauling them around on tour. They closed the night with “Man in the Box” from Alice in Chains and it brought me back to the early ‘90s and seeing that incredible band right up front at the all-GA El Paso County Coliseum aka The Barn. Rather masterful in the power they put into it. Just an immensely talented band.
No picks were harmed in this band, literally. No one used a pick. With the heartbreaking loss of Jeff Beck, throughout the night I was brought back to my childhood bedroom in Las Cruces, NM where I kept his picture on the wall beside. I just loved watching footage of Jeff Beck play and feeling every sound he conjured. My Mom was professional Harpist. Okay, it was Las Cruces so professional was a stretch. But she was good and practiced so many hours every night sometimes into the wee hours as we slept. She tried to teach me the harp when I was 5. I sucked. Bad. The whole thing was a nightmare that resulted in her ‘booking” me to playing lunchtime in the cafeteria at Loma Heights Elementary School. I think I was like in second grade. Ya, that made me REAL popular I tell ya. So horribly unpopular that when a group of girls were deciding what to call themselves, like the Fabulous Four or some other self-aggrandizing shit to be put on shirts they did offer to include me has a half. Like the Fabulous 4 ½. Even I knew that ‘½’ was never getting put on any shirt other than mine and I decided I preferred complete solitude over any attempt to make friends.
But back to the point, and I have one, after a life of watching my Mom play the harp and seeing other harpists every chance we got and trying to play myself – I have a big appreciation for people who don’t play with a pick. Just so hypnotic and fascinating and Jared James Nichols is an absolute joy to watch. Who needs friends when you have music, right? He’s also not shy and came into the crowd and I even managed to get a selfie while he was walking around and playing. Overall a great show. You could totally picture him co-headlining the Texxas Jam with Aerosmith in 1978 as 100,000 screaming fans press together in a haze of pot. But if you get to see him in a small venue, definitely get close and just watch him go. Hopefully you won’t have a wall of photographers in your way. And if you wanna check out The Peppermint Club, allow me to recommend catching Josie Cotton and Jesika Von Rabbit on January 25th. It’s a perfect venue and don’t forget to grab some of that free candy!
P.S. Did some of that investigative journalism, the opening band was Robert Jon and The Wreck.