Tried and True: John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives at White Water Tavern | Rock Candy

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tried and True: John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives at White Water Tavern

Posted By on Sun, Jan 15, 2012 at 3:31 PM

John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives at White Water
  • Cheree Franco
  • John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives at White Water

There's nothing new about Memphis's John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives, and frankly, that's why they work. The hooks, melodies, phrasings and structures are copped straight from rock pioneers. They're dishing sweetheart country, 50's sock hop, natty British Invasion and it's fuzzy, lo-fi afterbirth. Everything they play is tried and true, even if it isn't. You never know when Keith is covering an obscure great or delivering his own take, and it doesn't matter, because it's all timeless and familiar. Keith is like a pre-digital mashup DJ, saddled with a host of audiophile compulsions that come etched in the dusty vinyl of honky tonk jukeboxes. Anything committed to tape or CD need not apply.

Openers Kentucky Knife Fight, out of St. Louis, offered a ramshackle dose of southern gypsy punk, heavy on the buzzing banjo and froggy vocals. They channelled a mix of 90's radio rock and something grittier, more fantastic and subversive.

But the wall-to-wall crowd was holding out for John Paul Keith and his throwback of charmers, and we were happily suckered. We bought it all—pearl-buttoned shirt and worn boots; loose-limbed, knee-clenching delivery; throaty vocals, blue collar Tennessee accent, and those incredible, precise fingers that burn and dodge the fret, betraying an understated virtuoso. The man and his band are believable. They're not parodying a hip sound. They're playing the music their fathers' grew up on, because cable TV never quite made it to their hick towns. Or at least, that's the story I'm buying.

John Paul Keith and his One Four Fives fired off a rambunctious, ass-shaking series of two minute rootsy bullets. Even on mellow songs, the energy never lagged. The crowd haplessly called for encores, because nobody wanted to leave this swampy, Memphis rock 'n' soul behind.

Kentucky Knife Fight at White Water Tavern

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