The continued evolution of JD & The Straight Shot now sees singer-songwriter Jim Dolan fronting a four-person group as the band explores a stripped-down version of its sound, which is steeped in the quiet fire of Americana, with distinctive elements of the blues and mystical, rustic New Orleans-flavored roots music.
In addition to Dolan, the acoustic vocal group also includes guitarist Marc Copely (Rosanne Cash, McCrary Sisters, Billy Squier), guitarist Aidan Dolan; Kentucky-born bassist Byron House (Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris) and violinist Erin Slaver (Rod Stewart, Trace Adkins, Martina McBride), all of whom also contribute to songwriting.
This revised lineup continues its tour this year with a slate of European festivals, while also working on a follow up to the band’s last album, Where I’ve Been, which was released last year. Produced by Joe Walsh, the 2014 album features several breakthrough singles including “Governor’s Song,” which challenges some of today’s most well-known political figures; “Under That Hood,” a transformative single that tells the tragic story of Trayvon Martin; and “Hard to Find,” which will be featured in the highly-anticipated film, St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy.
Dolan started JD & The Straight Shot in 2000. The band has recorded four additional albums: Midnight Run (2012), Can’t Make Tears (2011), Right On Time (2008), and Nothing To Hide (2005) – as well as an EP, Daily News Blues (2010).
New York based JD & The Straight Shot’s new, all-acoustic record, Ballyhoo!, was released on January 15th. The eleven track set, produced by Chuck Ainlay, was recorded in Nashville and New York and merges elements of the blues, folk, roots and Americana. The songs are all originals sans one, a beautifully done cover of Spirit’s “Nature’s Way” – a song about the environment which remains current today.
Throughout the album, but particularly on the honest-as-can-be opener, “Empty,” founder and front man Jim Dolan’s weathered vocals exude experience. He is memorably joined on vocals by violinist Erin Slaver on the standout “Better Find A Church” which not only has a straight up groovy chorus, but a perfect guitar interlude. “Perdition” and “Ballyhoo” both feel like songs that would be heard in a blues joint in the deep South, while “Glide,” an ode to youthful joy, has an incredibly unique Bluegrass/70’s feel and “Don’t Waste My Time” puts forth a sad, noir vibe courtesy of violin and Byron House’s bass. Rounding out the collection are two favorites that are both sad, yet hopeful, “Hard To Find” and “I’ll See You Again.”
Merriam-Webster defines ballyhoo as “talk or writing that is designed to get people excited or interested in something,” if that’s the case, then Ballyhoo! definitely lives up to its title with songs that are interesting, memorable and refreshingly done. Give it a listen.
Jim Dolan’s day gig is Cablevision Systems CEO and Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden, where he also oversees the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. Music is his passion.
“I needed something in my life where I felt like I was actually creating,” says Dolan. “Most of what I do as an executive is orchestrate. I don’t actually set up cable and I don’t really shoot hoops. Music is something I’ve played since I was a kid. Music, for me, is a direct connection between me and the audience.”
JD & The Straight Shot has been covered by The New York Times, New York Post, Billboard, and New York Magazine, among other publications, and performed on “Good Day New York.” Their song “Can’t Make Tears” is the theme song for Hell on Wheels, the television drama entering its fifth season on AMC in 2015. Their music has been featured in many films, including St. Vincent and August: Osage County.
The group has opened for the Eagles on several tours, including the “History of the Eagles” tour, the “Summer 2010” tour, and the band’s stadium tour with the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban. JD & The Straight Shot has also opened for both Joe Walsh and Don Henley’s solo tours, the James Gang reunion tour, and performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Austin City Limits.