The Bell Curve Shift – John Doe and the Sadies live at Iota Cafe, Arlington, VA 5-8-2009

Most times I go to shows these days I am the oldest person in the room, often by a decade and sometimes more. I mean really, BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? They’re great, but apparently that’s music for the kids who still have some faith. It’s become sadly apparent that my crowd is becoming more and more of the shows at Iota in Arlington, Virginia and this show was certainly no exception. Of course, now at the ripe ol’ age of 32, I was on the younger side of that bell curve and that always makes me feel giddy, but also a little sad. Let me tell you why.

If you are not aware, John Doe is a living legend. He is a learned song writer in his own right, first with his many many years in X (how do you not know this?) and then of course his fantastic solo out put. He may very well be the first rock musician that can be put on the same level as guys like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard (to name of few) when it comes to the quality of his song writing. Song writing that has always been informed by country music. On his new album, and at this fine show at Iota he now pays homage to the genre.

Like every John Doe show I go to see, it’s in conjunction with a new album. In this case it is [i]Country Club[/i], the new Yep Roc release he bashed out with The Sadies. This album is largely made of deep cut country songs, tunes that a true and learned country aficionado would know. They are songs I remember vaguely from my childhood, driving to Placer County with my father to go to his store. At Iota, John Doe and the Sadies ripped through a good chunk of the recorded album. For me the highlights were “Stop the World and Let Me Off,” Merle Haggard’s “Are the Good Times Really Over for Good” and “It Just Dawned On Me” penned by Doe and former partner Exene Cervenka.

The night also included some great songs penned by The Sadies for which Dallas Good’s amazing range penetrated the room. Standing on stage with a man of Doe’s stature the Sadies more then kept their own and were probably the most proficient backing band Doe has had to date.

While it seems the peers of my age group are off having children and getting boring, I see now that the future for me is a life time surrounded by old, gray haired dudes hanging out on Friday nights in smoke free bars with polo shirts tucked into jeans. These grown ups, who are so regimented by there time at the office can’t even break free in their “leisure time” to literally let the shirt tails hang out. John Doe somehow makes that okay. He started out as a rebel and now exists on the fringes of mainstream. X will play at the 9:30 club in a few weeks and I am sure there will be more people my age and even younger in attendance. And while it thrills me to no end that X can still captivate the masses, I feel they are missing out on John Doe. He writes songs and plays music to an even finer degree then he did when he was bashing it out with X. While you can’t beat a sell out crowd, no matter the size and the intimacy of Iota lends it self to fantastic experience, John Doe deserves more respect then he’s getting. But the bottom line is, he’s one of the best out there today.

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