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Jazz Fest 2019, Day 8: Frank reviews The Suitcase Junket, Marty Stuart, and Steve Miller Band

Jun 29, 2019

Attention dear readers: This is Jeff Spevak. Frank offered to mow my lawn for a month if I'd write his blog entry tonight. Besides, how hard can it be? He learned everything from reading me and Raymond Chandler.

Downright sinister

I waited two hours to see New England's Matt Lorenz, known publicly as The Suitcase Junket. With a ragtag drum kit, battered cymbals, a drawer full of silverware, and another full of bones, Lorenz conjured some downright sinister beats, over which he poured some drop-tuned guitar as if it were a blend of maple syrup, venom and gear oil. 

He's also an accomplished throat singer. For those of you who aren't of Mongolian descent, it's a whirring tone, with overtones that originate in the stomach. Short answer: It's whistling in the stomach. But Lorenz did it one turn weirder by throat-singing into the microphonic pick-ups on his guitar. And speaking of his guitar, Jack White would kill for The Suitcase Junket's rough, raw, and ragged guitar tone. I think I might, too.

Magical moments

I'd forgotten how much I liked Marty Stuart until he took the stage with a big twang. The easygoing rockabilly musician had bassist Chris Scruggs — who I once witnessed do the Pee Wee Herman dance at an all-night diner in Nashville — slappin' on the two and the four. 

Under a large shock of white hair, Stuart was on fire, at one point blowing out a few doors with an incendiary take on "Orange Blossom Special," which he played alone on the mandolin. When he asked for a Johnny Cash suggestion, he picked "Ring of Fire." Apparently I didn't holler out "Long Black Veil" loud enough.

And then there was Steve Miller and his band unloading hit upon hit: "The Stake," "Jungle Love" — which I forgot how much I liked — and "Abracadabra," which I forgot how much I didn't like. Then there was "Living in the U.S.A," "Take the Money and Run," and so on. 

Miller sounded great, his guitar sounded great, and his band wove a tight shag for which to wiggle his toes therein. He was joined by Stuart and his band, and they swapped stories and licks to the flies on the walls and in the seats. It was magical.

Tomorrow's jazz fest plans: I don't know, as of right now. Lemme look and I'll get back to you.

De Blase is a CITY Newspaper music writer.