Word and pictures by Duane Clawson
Before attending this album release party, I had two missions: find out who this Jake West character is/was and what the heck is a reeling gilly? Pondering these questions, I went in search of answers at The Reeling Gilly’s “Jake West” album release party at the Duck Room located in the basement of the famous Blueberry Hill. To begin my detective work, I received an invite to this event from Ryan Albritton, owner and engineer of R&R Music Labs. He also is known as El Presidente of the Loud Label which is the labeling division of R&R. So without delay, I began researching the band. Not much in terms of Internet content, only a couple of videos on YouTube and a few songs on iTunes and CD Baby, but what I did hear and see was right up my alley. Listed as an Americana/Rock band on their Facebook page, a description I found to be lacking. This band is much, much more.
With the recent passing of Levon Helm, it was hard not to immediately compare The Reeling Gilly to The Band. Adding to The Band comparisons was Laren Loveless behind the drums and the band's lead vocalist with looks that rival those of a young Levon Helm. But digging deeper as the night went on, I heard bits of Ben Harper, the Eagles, and the White Stripes. The Reeling Gilly played the Jake West album in its six-song entirety. I’m just going to review a couple of the songs from the album; the ones that got my attention. The opening song, “Hang me in the Morning (Break These Chains)", is a powerful start to the evening with Laren Loveless doing major damage to a crash cymbal at the beginning of this tune. The second track, ”The Ballad of Jake West”, starts out with the eerie whispering vocals of Mr. Loveless and finishes as barroom sing-a-long complete with upright piano accompaniment. A personal favorite of mine, track number five, “Poor Richard”, has the feel of a Cat Stevens song and leaves one feeling sorry for Richard, whoever he may be. After the band covered the Jake West material, the Duck Room was at near capacity. In previous articles, I have mentioned St. Louis’s apprehension on approaching the stage, tonight was no different. After some encouragement from the band, the audience finally closed the gap.
Guitarist Rick Poeppel, along with Zach Gorsuch keys and Luke Berry on bass, went on to play some of the band's more familiar material. Just before the band’s powerful three song encore, the band played “Howl and Run”, a song that gave each musician onstage a workout and left the Duck Room howling (pun intended). After a brief break, the guys returned to perform their feel good song, “Good Company”. To close out this evening, the band, including extra musicians Josh Palmer on guitar, Sean Canan on mandolin, and Matt Gadeken on the fiddle, launched into The Band’s “Don’t Do It”. Laren Loveless gave up his spot behind the drums and sat cross legged, center stage to perform an intimate version of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. As I wind down this article I found I still have no clue what a Reeling Gilly is. I had a couple of leads on this but nothing that truly defines the band. As for Jake West, I never did find out who he was/is but one thing I did find out, The Reeling Gilly makes great music and that’s all that one really needs to know. Big thanks to The Reeling Gilly, Ryan Albritton and Ryan Lewis of R&R Music Labs for their work on another great project and inviting MTC to cover the show. Pictures of the show are below:
The Reeling Gilly Album Release Party @ The Duck Room, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 7:13:00 PM Rating: