Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7 / Front Country @ Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
How does a man that has played with members of the Grateful Dead, added his talents to a Derek Trucks album, and toured with the Allman Brothers remain relatively obscure? I have no idea but I’m certainly glad that I’ve finally discovered Jimmy Herring! This jazz fusion/jam band guitarist's technical skills are matched by few. But those that possess similar skills have been recruited for his current band, The 5 of 7. The 5 of 7 features Kevin Scott on bass, Matt Slocum on keys, Darren Stanley on drums and Rick Lollar on voice and guitar. These musicians have all been summoned by Herring due to their connection with the band, Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit.

Jimmy Herring adeptly describes what The 5 of 7 live is all about in the band’s press release, “There’ll be vocals, there’ll be instrumentals. There will be funk and rock and roll, with some songs leaning towards more sophisticated harmony...but, to me, it’s just music.” After hearing the band live, I will say Jimmy is a man of his word!  Apparently, judging by the by the size of the audience at Old Rock House, I was late to the Jimmy Herring Party! But first, the opening act.

Front Country has roots in California, relocated roots in Nashville, which make for sound that is part folk, part bluegrass. As the band calls it, “Roots Pop”. Lead singer and player of assorted instruments, Melody Walker, writes a majority of the band’s material. Bass player Jeremy Darrow has a background as a jazz musician, while Leif Karlstrom is trained as a classical violinist.  Mandolinist Adam Roszkiewicz studied classical guitar and guitarist Jacob Groopman cut his teeth in a Afrobeat band. As one could judge from their resume, this band’s repertoire is equally diverse!

A thunderous applause welcomed Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7 to the Old Rock House stage. When I was first invited to cover Mr. Herring’s new band I said, “Jimmy who?” After viewing a few clips on YouTube, I was convinced I needed more Jimmy Herring in my life! From the opening notes to everything crammed in between, The 5 of 7 lacked nothing! Herring’s powerful guitar playing was only enhanced by Lollar’s equally impressive riffs. Matt Slocum’s Hammond B-3 organ filled in the very few blank spaces in this musical landscape.  Stanley on drums is like a rhythmic octopus, continuously flowing and grooving.

A mixed bag of former band covers, Jimmy Herring solo pieces make up the set list. A few musical gems such as R. L. Burnside’s “Miss Maybelle” shine brightly during the band’s two-hour plus set. I also might add Lollar is no slouch on vocals turning in a Stevie Wonder-esque styled performance on King Baby’s “Former Lives.” If you are already of fan of Mr. Herring’s, that’s great, you’re already halfway there. But to realize his full potential, you must witness all of The 5 of 7’s intricate moving parts live and in-person!  Thanks to Michelle Gutenstein Hinz for introducing me to Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7. And as always a big thanks to Old Rock House for their hospitality!

Photos of the show are below:

Front Country
Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7 / Front Country @ Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7 / Front Country @ Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on September 25, 2019 Rating: 5
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