“Y’all can come down here. You don’t have to be scared of the rock music.”
And so Warner E. Hodges sets his trap.
I’m at Dingwalls in Camden and, so far, the six-foot gap in front of the stage has remained empty, despite two bands having already, in the parlance of the evening, rocked the place. As David Sinclair from openers David Sinclair Four noted, there are enough guitars racked up by the side of the stage to open an instrument shop. And as I’m noting now, one of those guitars belongs to Mr Rick Richards of Georgia Satellites fame, so you can be sure that the place had been rocked in a full and proper fashion, too.
In today’s musical climate, where anything goes and the melting pot is regularly stirred, it’s easy to forget just how radical an effect Jason and the Scorchers had on the Nashville scene when they formed in the early ’80s. Country rock might have been a well-established concept, but never before had the two musical styles blended with such force. The Scorchers fused country twang with white-hot rock ‘n’ roll, scaring the hell out of country purists. Hank Williams was reborn in an era that had lived through punk.
Commercial success might have eluded them but their cult status was, and is, assured; their pioneering spirit acknowledged with an exhibit in the museum in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, where Jason’s shirt and hat from the cover of the Fervor EP are on display, along with press cuttings detailing the band’s early trailblazing.
The post-gig piddle is usually a good chance to overhear some opinions. Men’s mouths are never freer than when they’re standing side by side with their comrades in urination, having just drunk beer and witnessed live rock ‘n’ roll. If Prime Minister’s Question Time was held in the bogs of the Camden Underworld on a Wednesday night, we’d get to find out what was really goin’ on.
The show-off in question is actually Warner E. Hodges, a founding member and mainstay of Nashville’s finest rock ‘n’ roll outfit, Jason and the Scorchers – the band that, in the early ’80s, put a steel-toed cowboy boot up the backside of country music, opening it up to the post-punk generation and making cult heroes of the band’s members, not least Jason (Ringenberg) and Warner.