August 7, 2009
Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights | Antone’s Nightclub | Austin, TX | July 23, 2009
Words and Photos by Tara Lacey
Antone’s Austin lived up to its claim-to-fame as “home of the blues” as the solid blues rock and spot-on soul sound of Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights steamrolled over an unsuspecting Thursday night crowd. Bob Marley had a point when he said, “the thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain…” Pain was far from what the crowd at Antone’s was feeling, however it was clear that the entire room had felt something: the magnetism of Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights.
For the duration of their set the entire ensemble exuded a vigorous energy that took the audience from a ho-hum opening band lull to a full-fledged, face-melting and completely satisfying blues rock catharsis. It was absolutely the most electrifying performance I’ve witnessed in quite some time.
Jonathan Tyler swaggers and sashays across the stage making love to his guitar, occasionally picking up a harmonica to hit home the delta blues roots of The Northern Lights’ powerhouse sound. Mo Brown’s vocals lend sultry soul to the boys’ “been there” bluesy grit. Bassist Nick Jay and guitarist Brandon Pinckard told me without hesitation that John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page are their biggest influences, which is evident especially in “Devil’s Basement,” respectfully reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” In it, Jay and Jordan Cain lay down steady head bobbing rhythms and “Kansas” Pinckard busts out some trippy guitar effects.
Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights can even throwback to the soulful, funky style of Marvin Gaye with hits like “Sunshine.” I even heard a couple of girls around the house state simply that JTNL’s music put them in the mood for some boudoir action, and Jonathan’s hip sway probably didn’t hurt that cause one bit.
Hot on the heels of the success of their record, Hot Trottin’, Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights are trotting the United States with some industry heavy hitters – opening for the likes of The Black Crowes, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd – and have managed to rack up a hand-full of festival dates. They’ll be featured at Austin City Limits and rest assured, I’ll be front and center. Then they'll be squeezing in a few more shows before putting in serious studio time on their next album, which is due out early next year. Make sure to catch them while you can in a more intimate venue and throw back a couple of beers with the band.