September 19, 1997
Steve Thompson
My Favorite Jack Straw's Bookings: June 1994 - September 1997
Of the 318 different artists/bands that I booked into Jack Straw's during my stint there, these were my personal favorites. And as always I thank Jack Straw's owner, Chandler Spawr, for the opportunity... and good times!

The Backsliders - Traditional roots/country mixed with Exile On Main St. era Keith Richards. For a time, The Backsliders were the hardest rockin’ hard-core honky-tonk band on the planet.
The Honeydogs - Replacements style abandon one minute, then the sweetest ballad you ever heard the next… and they let me mumble my way through “Torn & Frayed” with ‘em one night! The Honeydogs are a perfect rock-n-roll band.
The Derailers - The songs, the playing, the presentation… This band sets the standard for the roots/country movement. They are, quite simply, a beautiful thing to behold. They received the loudest applause that I ever heard at Jack Straw’s.
Dash Rip Rock - You have to have been there...
Lou Ford - IMHO, the best band to emerge from Charlotte since Fetchin Bones. Their demo tape stayed in my player for months. These boys are somehow coming up with a batch of original songs that are just plain better than anybody else’s.
Bill Miller - Bill Miller was the classic case of an artist who nobody was familiar with, coming out on the stage and blowing the crowd of 25 away. His guitar playing was at times like Leo Kottke, and the images he painted with his lyrics and poetry and traditional Indian flutes were spell binding. He was the truest artist to ever hold forth on the Jack Straw’s stage.
Kevn Kinney & David Franklin - Rare is the soul who can do what Kevn Kinney can, with just an acoustic guitar and a song…
The Van DeLecki’s - Back in the 80’s North Carolina produced some great pop bands, and The Van DeLecki’s are heirs to all that. Bryan Shumate is a mad scientist, and what Jamie Hoover doesn’t know about pop production doesn’t need to be known.
The Aqualads - 20 surf & spy instrumentals in 50 minutes makes for an average song length of just less than 2 minutes 30… which is just about what it should be! The best new Charlotte band since Lou Ford. They “retired” the surly Jake Berger from the lineup, but not before absorbing many of his teachings. The beautiful AquaNets rule!
Donkey - They’ve mixed it up a number of ways through the years but it always comes out rootsy and hard rockin’. Todd Ferster is a monster showman!
The Gladhands - The Gladhands opened for The Records and were another example of a truly great (but relatively unknown) band playing to a small, but appreciative, audience. Their arrangements had the depth of Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, which to those that know, is all that needs to be said.
Ross Rice - Primarily a producer of great note (Big Ass Truck), Ross is the Jamie Hoover of Memphis. His band played in the Todd Rundgren vein and I hate that we were able to book him but once.
The Rank Outsiders – Gigi Dover is better than most of the singers she’s been compared to, and there are few in Nashville that can hold a candle to her!  Bill Noonan could get the most beautiful raw tones out of his telecaster, and bass-man Tom Kuhn was every bit as animated as Bill Wyman, and drummer Ray Mitchell could chew more gum than 10 men! I saw the Rank Outsiders put on as good a show as anybody ever did at Jack Straw’s, more than once.
Jolene - Jolene is not afraid to evolve, and they have to be the top drawing Charlotte band of the last few years. They’ve worked it hard, been persistent through ups and downs, and they’ve remained true to real music through it all. Congrats on the Sire deal boys!
Cigar Store Indians - They’re as good as the Belmont Playboys, which is a supreme compliment in my book!
The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz - The Rev. is most known for his Southern satire, but it’s his boogie woogie blues piano that does it for me. His services should be attended at least once a year.
Fleming & John - Complex pop arrangements, beautiful, powerful, and alluring… Fleming McWilliams was a siren if ever there was one, and Fleming & John is one of those bands that it’s ridiculous to try to write about.
The Urban Shakedancers - Hard-edged blues rock from the Black Crows camp. They broke up just when we were starting to love ‘em.
Sugar Blue - He’s a lot more than just the harp solo on “Miss You.”
Big Ass Truck - Big Ass Truck slammed Jack Straw’s from the get-go and holds the record for the biggest crowd we ever had. Their sound was cutting edge, yet thoroughly infused with their Memphis roots.
Ben Folds Five - We had Ben Folds Five before many people outside of Chapel Hill had ever heard of them. Bob “BobZilla” Davis told me to book ‘em and that’s what I did. This was a tremendous show in spite of their manager!
The Black Family - Gina Black, the doghouse bass player, wore the shortest skirt, and had the longest legs… which has nothing to do with the music, but who cares! Evenings with this wild rockabilly outfit from Chicago came to be highly anticipated!
Vallejo - It’s sad but true… some of our best all-time shows were in front of the smallest audiences, and Vallejo was one of them. Their hometown, Austin, TX must surely be the greatest live music city in the world.
Phil Lee & The Sly Dogs - Phil Lee carries around more great songs in his back pocket than all but a very few songwriters come up with in a lifetime.
The VooDudes - Always a New Orleans gumbo party!
9811 - Simple, completely unpretentious, and fun… exactly what a live rock-n-roll band should be.
All Mighty Senators - There’s a lot of funk out there, but only one All Mighty Senators.
The Extraordinaires - These guys play Chuck Berry right.
Leisure McCorkle - Lee McCorkle has super-human energy. They play the right songs, for all the right reasons, and they draw a great crowd.
The Terry Anderson Band - From The Fabulous Knobs, to The Woods, to the Yahoos, Terry picks great bands to be in.
The Jumpstarts - Not at all just another ska-type band. The Jumpstarts’ gospel and R&B roots run mighty deep, especially considering how young they are.
Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun - Bill Kirchen has my vote for being the best electric guitar player to have ever graced the Jack Straw’s stage.
The Johnsons - Son Volt got the acclaim, but The Johnsons made a better record.
Joe, Marc’s Brother - Mersey Beat era vocals are something you don’t hear much of anymore.
The V-roys - Steve Earl knows a good band when he hears one! Stage presentation will not become a lost art as long as the V-roys are working.
The Johnny Hyde Quartet - Seems like every time I start to think that hardly any of the bands are rockin’ real hard anymore, along comes a group like JHQ. JHQ rocked, and they rocked hard, and I would have had them back at Jack Straw’s ASAP.
Too Skinee J’s - Another show that only about 25 people saw at Jack Straw’s, but what a show! Their stage antics proved to be just what we had heard about!
Fusion Caribe - They had everybody dancing like crazy people! This was Salsa and Merengue at its best.
Two Dollar Pistols - Straight-up, hard-core roots country. The Two Dollar Pistols opening for The Derailers was the best show that I ever booked.
The Uma Jets - They were all over the local radio at the time of their show with us and it was just one of those good nights…