Sunday, November 20, 2016

Jim James at Terminal 5

For reasons of simplicity, James Olliges, Jr. used the name Jim James when he began performing at local open mics in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. James contributed songs, sang and played guitar in a local rock band called Month of Sundays beginning in 1994. By 1998, James had accumulated several songs he felt were not a fit for Month of Sundays, and looking for an outlet he formed what would become the rapidly successful My Morning Jacket. James then injured himself in a fall from a stage in 2008, putting My Morning Jacket on hiatus and allowing him to start working on solo projects. He soon resumed work with My Morning Jacket, but also recorded albums with Monsters of Folk in 2009 and the New Basement Tapes in 2014. James released his third solo album, Eternally Even, on November 4, 2016.

My Morning Jacket headlined five nights at Terminal 5 in 2010; this time around Jim James showcased his alternate cache of songs with one concert at the same venue. As such, this time around James looked very much like the MMJ singer, with his scraggly beard, dark glasses and long coat, but he performed no MMJ songs. To further distinguish the lines, he played very little guitar this time and trilled like a rhythm and blues singer. The new James persona was equally as eclectic as the MMJ character, however. When he played guitar, the songs rocked; when he played keyboards, the songs dissolved into an atmospheric trance; when he played no instruments, he crooned sentimental pop like Amos Lee. Backed by the opening act, a trio of fellow Louisville-natives called Twin Limb, plus a bassist and additional drummer, James performed nearly all of his current solo album, five songs from an earlier solo album, two covers of songs he recorded with Monsters of Folk and New Basement Tapes, plus a cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Set Free." Those who attended hoping for an MMJ experience had an other-worldly experience instead, but this world was impressive as well.

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