July 17, 2009
No Dollar $hoes | Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar | Carolina Beach, NC | June 28, 2009
On a lazy Sunday afternoon, No Dollar $hoes played a high-energy, down-home country and bluegrass-filled set with one of the best backdrops a band could have next to a stadium filled to capacity. At the end of the pier at the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar, the four band members looked as if they just walked off the beach and decided to play a tempered set of original tunes and covers thick in acoustic guitar, violin and strong harmonies. The vocalization that came from the band’s young singers sounded more like men well beyond their years.
Under a bright blue Carolina sky dotted with seagulls, the band – twin Wilmington natives Carson and Jesse Jewell on guitars and vocals, Benjamin Smith on upright bass and Ryan Eversole on violin – stood on the bare end of the pier wearing only bathing suit board shorts and drinking Modelo beers with a dozen surfers in the Atlantic Ocean behind them as they played.
They performed for an hour and half straight before taking a break, tearing through originals like “Put Another Log on the Fire” and “Let a Good Woman Go,” and covers ranging from Mudcrutch’s “Shady Grove” to an up-tempo version of “Delia’s Gone,” made well-known by Johnny Cash. Their choice of covers were low key selections that fit the band’s playing style, yet the band still turned them around musically. The result was that the cover songs sounded as if they had originated with the band even as they slowed down “Shady Grove” and sped up “Delia’s Gone.”
Looking like a young Bruce Campbell, Benjamin pawed and strummed at his upright bass and sang heartily with the Jewell brothers, switching back and forth. All afternoon long he had a smile on his face, occasionally speaking between songs to announce that, “Jesse wrote that one.”
Next to the vocals, Eversole’s fiddle playing seemed to stand out the most, its haunting tone and underlying mood keeping the crowd in check in the midst of drinks and good weather. In all, the band performed a tight set, sounding like old timers or well-oiled players on a back porch in the Piedmont. No Dollar $hoes, as a compliment, sounded pristinely old, never once coming off as a group of guys working to ape music from long ago.
-Words by Brian Tucker; photo by Duke Hagestrom