The layout was simple at Darwin’s Burgers and Blues in Sandy Springs Friday night. There were two chairs on stage, in which sat Jason Ricci and JJ Appleton, and there was a huge upright bass, played by New Orleans legend Jack Joshua (“That’s 5 J’s,” they point out with a laugh.) There are no amps. no wires, nothing but guitars, harmonicas, and that bass. It looks laid back, and it is. Between songs, Ricci and Appleton kid around with each other and the audience. Joshua just smiles.
But it turns out that under that laid back style, there is magical fire. Appleton is from NYC and his vocals are cool and controlled, backed up by equally controlled guitar and bass. But then there is Jason Ricci, one of the greatest harmonica players in the world, stoking a fire in and around and under the words and creating the illusion that it’s all barely in check after all.
The result is amazing and the audience responds with yells and wild applause. They revel in it. Some of them, like us, have seen Ricci before, alone and with his band, The Bad Seed. But to see him here, just acoustic, with another vocalist so he is free to only take the occasional vocal himself and can just play, is another kind of experience altogether. And Appleton is a real surprise, able to handle an old blues like “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” and the slither of “Black Limousine,” one of the songs they did from their album, Dirty Memory. They also did songs from the album coming out in September, which sounds like it will be equally amazing.
We stayed until about 11:30 and the trio were still going strong when we left. It was a great show and only the distance we had to travel home caused us to leave. It was really lovely to see an acoustic show and watch three talented musicians create magic. Don’t miss them if they come your way, and grab Dirty Memory in the meantime!