Concert review by Eric Sandberg
9th Annual Jackshit Christmas Show
McCabe's Guitar Shop
December 14, 2018
I can honestly say that, until the evening of December 14th, 2018, I didn't know Jackshit. I was invited by Mike Berman (my erstwhile partner in this little opining venture) who could scarcely contain his excitement at securing two tickets...something about Elvis' rhythm section, some Scottish guy and guest stars? Heck, I'd go see William Hung if it was at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. I've never once looked at my watch during a show at McCabe's.
Now it's the morning after and boy do I know Jackshit. You ignorant fools! I've been a devoted fan for years! I have all their albums! Look, one is signed by all three of them!
But seriously, folks, there is nothing serious about Jackshit except for their astonishing musical ability and their obvious sheer love of great songs. Their approach is nestled comfortably in the genre dubbed "Cosmic American Music" by the late, great Gram Parsons who spearheaded this style with The International Submarine Band, The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers decades ago. Indeed the second song of their set was a breakneck version of "Christine's Tune (Devil In Disguise)" from the latter's first album.
Val (Beau Shit) McCallum on guitar, Davey (Shorty Shit) Faragher on bass and Pete (of Shit) Thomas are world class players and their onstage banter, particularly between Beau and Shorty, was spontaneous and hilarious to everyone, except maybe for Pete who could often be seen mouthing the rhythm of the next song so he would be ready when Beau and Shorty were done jabbering.
The Shits (as I've been calling them for years, now) tore through an eclectic set of classic songs and a sprinkling of originals, from a sublime reading of Richard Thompson's (dubbed Richard The Turd when he sits in with the boys) "Vincent Black Lightning" to Frankie Laine's Theme From Blazing Saddles ("It'll be over soon," Beau assured us three quarters through).
But I was promised guest stars. Who might show up? Johnny Depp? Corey Feldman? Their first guests, previously unknown to me, were a delight. Introduced as "The Deershits" George and Jo Ellen Doering led a three-song bluegrass set with George playing more notes on his mandolin than Yngwie Malmsteen can cram into a Paganini tune. Beau later told me that George is the number one, go-to session guitarist in Hollywood. Go ahead, Google him.
As much of a treat as the Deershits were, what came next was sublime, as Jackshit was joined onstage by Albert Lee. Albert is a slight, frizzy-haired Londoner who happens to be the greatest country picker the world will ever know. Google him after George. With Albert singing, the four played a three-song set so blistering that, after the second song, Albert suggested he might need to go have a lie down.
Val McCallum is an amazing guitarist who can play in whatever style the song requires and it was a treat to watch the great Pete Thomas play in such an intimate setting. You know when you're watching a next level professional drummer and he is that. The seemingly eccentric blank stare on his face is him listening intently to his fellow players.
The real revelation for me was Pete's rhythm partner in The Imposters Davey Faragher. Now Davey is someone who found himself a pretty sweet gig because his predecessor couldn't get along with the boss. As a longtime fan of Pete and Davey's employer my mental image of Davey, derived from publicity photos, was of a chubby guy with obnoxious golden curls and a "How did I get here?" look on his face.
The Davey I saw onstage was slim, bespectacled, skull-capped and brimming with humor and personality. He can also play the bass all professional-like and shit.
The band took a deep breath and closed the show with a marathon medley of songs by The Who, Hendrix (not Nona), Chicago, Jeff Beck, Sugarloaf and many more. The curated songs and the way they transitioned from one to the next was brilliantly executed.
Post-show McCabe's audience, happy as shit. Photo: Mike Berman
What also makes this annual show special is that it benefits the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation which, with the assistance of McCabe's, provides musical instruments for under served schools. It also helps keep McCabe's going for another year which is essential. If you have never seen a show at McCabe's it is an absolute must on your bucket list, even if William Hung is playing. You will never find a more intimate and enjoyable setting for live music.
The 9th Annual Jackshit Christmas Show stages again at McCabe's Saturday and Sunday.
Eric Sandberg: My true opinion on everything is that it's splunge.