Sound Advice: JD McPherson Brings Twang and Swagger to Southgate House Revival

JD McPherson performs at Southgate House Revival on Aug. 12.

Aug 9, 2023 at 5:08 am
click to enlarge JD McPherson performs at Southgate House Revival on Aug. 12. - Photo: Levi Manchak, Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Levi Manchak, Wikimedia Commons
JD McPherson performs at Southgate House Revival on Aug. 12.

This story is featured in CityBeat's Aug. 9 print edition.

Let's hope that after doing double duty for one of the hottest Americana tours around, JD McPherson takes a breather before embarking on his own tour this August, which includes an upcoming date at the Southgate Revival. McPherson not only played lead guitar for Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s band, but he also performed as their Raise the Roof tour's opening act. Since releasing his debut record, Signs & Signifiers, in 2010, the former school teacher from Oklahoma has been one of the key figures in the retro-roots music scene. With four records, the most recent one called SOCKS, a Christmas-themed collection of originals from 2018, McPherson renders a rollicking blast of rockabilly and garage R&B filtered through his Southern roots. He's collaborated with roots stalwarts such as Dan Auerbach, Jimmy Sutton and Butch Walker on various projects, and developed an invigorating, vintage analog style — complete with feisty horns, reverb-soaked guitars and his wailing vocals — all in service of delivering sweaty fun and a workout on the dancefloor. It's no coincidence that his second record, possibly his best, is titled Let the Good Times Roll. McPherson may seem an unlikely choice to play Led Zeppelin covers with Robert Plant, but their versions of "Rock and Roll" and "Battle of Evermore" are transformed — and partially because of McPherson's livewire guitar twang and swagger.

McPherson explained his bond with Plant to The Current last year, "And like me, he just wants to talk about old records all day long. You know, he's like, 'JD do you take requests?' And then he'll like want to do a Gene Vincent song, which I'm happy to oblige. And he's got like eight or nine thousand 45s alone."

JD McPherson plays Southgate Revival House at 8 p.m. Aug. 12. Info: southgatehouse.com


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