A Black Jake and the Carnies show is certainly about the music, but not only the music. It's also an event, and the band takes events seriously. Costumes are worn, usually matching outfits for the Carnies and something a tad more elaborate for the front man. Carnival games are played as well, with plenty of audience participation. In a version of ring toss, colored rings are dispersed into the crowd and fans try to toss them onto the heads of the Carnies, who wear special hats with ring-catching stakes atop them. There is also a game for which Cooter, wearing a Velcro suit, bangs out notes on his bass and crisscrosses the stage in his version of Chuck Berry's duck walk, while the audience throws Velcro balls at him--the idea being to get as many as possible to stick to his suit.
"Crabgrass" is a fairly distinct sound, but perhaps the Pogues in their heyday are a close comparison. The instruments are for the most part the same, both mix traditional and punk elements, and the stage energy and live recklessness is equal. Black Jake and the Carnies have introduced "crabgrass" to Europe and have played at Muddy Roots, the premier outlaw country festival in the United States. The band takes its act to the Ark on December 21, with opening act Lac La Belle, for what promises to be an eventful night of music and fun.
[Originally published in December, 2012.]