The Spikedrivers, Skullys, Columbus, OH – 4/10
Skully’s is a pseudo 1950s hipster bar complete with dr that consists of black and white diner style checkerboard patterns, red velour light shades, and separate bars stocked with a plentiful amount of good beers on tap. On Friday April 10, the dark, long, and narrow bar played host to the boogie inducing Spikedrivers on a perfectly gloomy Columbus night. The Spikedrivers took to the stage as a six piece consisting of two lead guitarists, the very laid back John Boerstler on stage right and the incomparable Steve Sweeney on stage left, the Appalachian bearded upright bass player Steven Fox, the precise drumming of Nathan Anders, the possessed shaman lead singer/rhythm guitarist Jesse Henry, and the captivating and sultry violinist/vocalist Megan Palmer. The Spikedrivers mixed hillbilly, bluegrass, rock, blues, and jazz together to deliver a splendid punch of good ole’ knee slappin’ dancin’ music.
Throughout the night each member of the band showcased their talents while seamlessly playing together as a collective unit. Jesse Henry’s scat vocals on Willie Dixon’s “My Babe” sounded brilliant as the rest of the band chopped and funked along. Megan Palmer’s voice conveyed the torture and heartache of Dolly Parton’s lyrics during a cover of “Jolene.” The highlight of the show was a brand new song called “Victoria.” The Spikedrivers will be releasing a new record, entitled Gather Round, on May 15 and if this song is an indication of what to expect from the rest of the album, then the band will be leaning towards a more Stonesy, rockin’ vibe on Gather Round. “Victoria” sounded like an Exile on Main Street outtake pulsating with an up-tempo yet soulful guitar solo provided by Steve Sweeney and the harmonized screams of Jesse Henry and Megan Palmer during the catchy chorus hook.
For over two hours The Spikedrivers dazzled the crowd with precise and inspired playing. While each member of the band showed their mastery of their instrument it was the guitar playing of Steve Sweeney that stood out on this night. Sweeney is best known for being the floppy hat wearing guitarist for hippie rock jammers Ekoostik Hookah. The small barroom atmosphere of Skully’s was the perfect setting for Sweeney to shake the walls with his gold topped Les Paul and Fender Reverb Amplifier. Sweeney was able to morph into whatever type of playing was needed to accent the Spikedrivers sound during each song. His playing could be featured through a riveting solo or it could propel the song along by providing rhythmic patterns and fills as the other members of the band took center stage. It didn’t matter if the song was a bluesy rocker, a bluegrassy foot stomper, or a sensitive country ballad, Sweeny was on top of it and performed the needed guitar work with stellar timing and delivery. Watching the interaction between Jesse Henry and Megan Palmer as Sweeny produced golden sounds one could tell that they were feeling his playing and stepping up their game to match his musical production. If you find yourself in the Midwest and looking for some outstanding music, put on your dancing shoes and go find the Spikedrivers.