The Orpheum, Tampa, FL • March 9, 2000
After having my socks nearly permanently knocked off by the Camaros new EP, Dangergirl , it probably would have taken being run over by a Camaro to keep me from this show. That imperative turned out to be one that was well worth following, as the amazing Jen Jones and her boys delivered two sets of hot rockabilly, jump blues, Western swing, and other roots musics in a fun, high-spirited show.
It quickly became obvious that Jones is the star of the Camaros’ show. All smiles and sexy attitude, she’s the center of attention when she’s on stage, and when she’d briefly leave to let the boys take a classic ’50s rock number or two, you could almost feel the magic leave the room. That’s not to say that the boys aren’t talented musicians in their own right – to the contrary, they put most other bands to shame – but Jones knows how to keep the party going, and keeps the atmosphere light, friendly, and just racy enough to keep your attention from wandering (as she quipped while introducing one song, “listen closely, this one’s slightly pornographic if you listen closely”). Adding to the aforementioned friendly atmosphere was the fact that Jones often invited friends up on stage with the band, to perform backing vocals or – as on “Catfight Boogie” – just to have a good, old-fashioned mock catfight.
And then there’s that voice – that golden, gorgeous voice that seems to come from somewhere below her knees as she belts out tune after tune. She sounds every bit as good live as she does on record, proving that a real singer doesn’t need studio tricks.
For the crowd’s part, they showed their enthusiasm for Jones’ superior songwriting and the band’s enthusiastic performance by dancing feverently throughout both sets, and even hollering for an encore at the end, after close to two hours’ worth of tunes. On noting the crowd’s demand for more, Jones flashed that winning smile one more time, and gave the people what they wanted.
Also of note was a lot of local participation in this gig, as Chris from Tampa rockabilly favorites Midnight Bowlers’ League joined the band to slap the stand-up bass for a tune, and between sets, members of a new upstart rockabilly band (whose name I unfortunately missed) joined some of the Camaros’ boys to jam on a few numbers. It’s good to see the Tampa area building a rockabilly scene – it’s a trend I really hope to see continue.
It’s also worthy to note that the Orpheum is really getting behind this nascent scene, running a regular “retro” night of rockabilly and swing every Thursday, featuring DJ Paul spinning everything from classics from the vaults to the leaders of the new school of rockabilly, along with the occasional live band, like tonight’s Camaros appearance. Hats off to the Orpheum for getting behind this movement – it’s the perfect little joint for this kind of endeavor.
All in all, a wonderful night of great music, nice folks, and a lot of fun. What more can you ask for in a night out?