When JD & The Straight Shot recently took the stage as the opening act for Don Henley at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA, vocalist/guitarist Jim Dolan (JD) told the near capacity crowd the band was there to prep them for the legendary Eagles’ drummer. But to call Dolan and the rest of Straight Shot an “opening act” or a “prep group” is misleading. For, as the band would prove with their tight musicianship and songwriting prowess during an infectious forty-five-minute jaunt, JD & The Straight Shot is equally on par with some of the best around.
The band launched into their set with the acoustic guitar-driven track, “Glide”, with the rich harmonies of Dolan and fiddle/vocalist Erin Slaver melding into one eclectic Americana, bluegrass and country groove. From there, the band performed a flawless and tasty cover of the Spirit song, “Nature’s Way.” Keeping all the foundation and vibe of the original, 47-year-old classic while giving it a hauntingly, artful 21st century-feel.
Proving their music transcends entertainment mediums as well as musical genres, two of the songs from JD & The Straight Shots’ set had also been featured on the soundtrack of feature films: The first, “Perdition” taken from “Jane Got A Gun” while the other, “Violet’s Song” a self-reflecting, inspirational from the Meryl Streep film, “August: Osage County”.
The band used some of their eight-song set to showcase new music from their forthcoming album due out this fall. The songs, “Redemption Train” and “Moonlight” both were delivered with the same passion and heartfelt emotion. The latter of which a story about a young man’s forlorn attempt at love which ultimately leads him to an impractical relationship.
The second half of The Straight Shots’ set was when things really kicked into high gear. Notably, the song, “Ballyhoo” which featured an introduction by Dolan in carnival barker/magician garb and included an amazing fiddle/guitar duel between Slaver and guitarist Mark Copely. “Better Find A Church” was equally as infectious with its warning message and surreal harmonies.
The band closed out their set with another cover, the Little Feat classic, “Let it Roll.” The song featured an impromptu jam with Slaver and Copely along with Dolan’s son, Aidan (guitar) and bassist, Byron House and included flavors of “Wipe Out,” “Tequila” and “Paint It Black” for good measure.
As JD & The Straight Shot exited the stage two things were made perfectly clear. As an "opening act," the band had exceeded any and all expectation. Even more importantly was the fact that they left the audience wanting more.
JD & The Straight Shot Set List (Bethlehem, PA)
Redemption Train (New Song)
Nature's Way (Spirit cover)
Moonlight (New Song)
Better Find A Church
Let it Roll (Little Feat cover)