The evening of January 14, 2013 saw English teen-music sensation Jake Bugg (born Jacob Edwin Kennedy), play a highly anticipated sold-out Bowery Ballroom show. Bugg burst onto the British music scene at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival and was subsequently signed to Mercury records. The last eight months have been a whirlwind of activity for the soon-to-be 19 year-old. He appeared on “Later with Jools Holland”, a very popular BBC2 show, released an E.P. in July, and played a short U.S. and European tour in support of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. His debut, self-titled, full-length album was released in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2012, where it reached number one in the music charts. The ensuing months have been filled with numerous promotional appearances. The album will be released in the U.S. on February 3, 2013. After his New York City appearances, his schedule included a trip to Los Angeles for several concerts and an appearance on the television talk show “Conan”. At the end of January, Jake embark on a three month European headlining tour. Needless to say, this young man is keeping himself busy.
Upon entering the Bowery Ballroom, patrons were ushered into the downstairs bar, where coincidentally or not, the sound system pumped out a string of The Beatles hits. Jake resembles a young John Lennon in looks, and The Beatles’ musical influence is unmistakable in his music. Bugg’s sound is part Jimi Hendrix, part Oasis, and most notably, deeply rooted in the music of Johnny Cash. The doors to the hall were opened and the diehards jockeyed for position in the front row. Soon after, the venue was packed, and the buzz was electric.
Opening the show was Memphis-born singer-songwriter Valerie June. Her folksy twang and easy humor on stage were reminiscent of Dolly Parton. June’s mane of dreadlocked hair will ensure the two won’t be confused in person. The songs Valerie played were a blend of blues, folk, country, gospel, and bluegrass. She has a powerful voice, and will be releasing a new album later this year, which includes several songs co-written and produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
Following the break, accompanied by a drummer and bassist, young Mister Jake Bugg came out—his appearance was greeted by a loud salvo of adulation. With his thick English lilt, he introduced the tune, “Kentucky”. His vocals reminded the listeners of a young Bob Dylan. He played a string of catchy, hopeful, tunes that illustrate the singer’s experiences growing up in, and around, Nottingham, England. The teen is focused on his musicianship and the “rock star” persona, and stage posing, is thankfully absent. He is ALL business, and his business is creating outstanding music. The audience, familiar with most of the songs, sang along emphatically to his hits, “Two Fingers”, and “Lightning Bolt”. The set lasted slightly over an hour and his band excused themselves for several songs, mid-set, allowing the singer an unshared spotlight. For an encore, he covered the classic Johnny Cash hit, “Folsom Prison Blues”.
As the packed house spilled onto the street, and a cold winter wind whipped the barren streets of the Bowery, one theme was repeated in most conversations. Jake Bugg is taking the first steps in, what could be, a legendary musical journey.
2. Love Me The Way You Do
3. Trouble Town
4. Seen It All
5. Ballad of Mr. Jones
6. Someone Told Me
7. Country Song
8. Simple As This
10. Two Fingers
11. Taste It
12. Lightning Bolt
Encore – Folsom Prison Blues
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