100 Shows of 2010 - #53: The Deadmen @ Rock’n’Roll Hotel, 8/14/10

There are times, though relatively few and far between, when I see a show that makes me really, really glad to be alive and present in that particular time and place. Oh sure, I’m a pretty lucky gal and I go to a bunch of good shows, heck a lot of them probably even qualify as great, but the ones that really, really stand out don’t come along too often. I’m talking about those shows that you feel from your head to your toes, from your head to your heart, and of course, in your soul. The special shows. I had the privilege of one such show, ringing in the fourth birthday of the Rock’n’Roll Hotel to the beautiful, beautiful sounds of DC’s latest band to make me swoon, otherwise known as The Deadmen.

MINI RECAP: The Deadmen = Tremendous Troubadours! Overall score: A.

Going into the show, I was already a big fan of the singing and the songwriting done by Justin Jones. I have often opined that Jones possesses one of the purest, soul-heavy voices I’ve ever heard, and so was fairly confident that anything he had a hand in would be good as gold. As often happens, I was right. As all and sundry swilled cheap PBR tallboys (making me almost miss Richmond) and munched birthday cupcakes, the foursome took control of the stage, leaving their hearts and souls and sweat in an all-out blitz of beauty.

Their sound was lush, at times throwing off hints of The Band (well-constructed, intensely layered songs – just don’t ask me which one gets to be Robbie Robertson), Bruce Springsteen (down home, homespun, Americana drenched songs with bite), The Byrds (dashes of sunshine with elaborate licks), and just about any country slash blues slash folk great you can think of. There was an impressive polish to their performance, though they managed to lock in the appealing grit that one might expect from a band from around these parts. The shared vocals of Jones with Josh Read of Revival proved a great pairing, each one bringing a particular fire to his respective songs.

They were nearly done with first song “Sons and Dogs” when I wrote in my notes that “I think I just found me another favorite DC band.” The wallop of guitars and shades of bluesy folk were like a flame to me, and I felt rooted to the spot as the boys played on. I found “Angels” particularly noteworthy, with the harmonica and Justin’s heart-wrenching, force of nature voice, it was hard to resist. “This freedom don’t satisfy me,” Jones sang wryly in the excellent “Money”, a feisty little song that further exhibited just how special this band can be. Their sound, especially given the short time they’ve been together, was at times majestic. “Old Stone Bridge”, for instance, was undeniable, ever so lively and catchy as all get out. They didn’t let up once (well, ok, so the singing of “Happy Birthday” to the club and to Justin was a little sub-par, but that’s the worst I can say about the whole night). And covering “Casey Jones” was a stroke of genius, that song just fit them to a T.

I expected a whole lot from this band, and they gave me even more than I had hoped for. All I can say, really, is that this band is knocking on the door, my friends. They’ve shivered my timbers, and they’re just getting started. I can’t recommend them to you enough. I’m gonna be damned cranky until they get some music released, I can tell you that. DC friends, consider yourselves lucky to be here now for this band. I sure do. Consider yourselves warned: The Deadmen is on the way.


  1. Great review. I can't wait until the next show, as the first time hearing those songs I was still getting used to how the band fit together. Was Justin or Josh lead singer on the song? Ok, song is over, WAIT! Justin ripping up a guitar solo instead... So fun.


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