Sunday, June 14, 2009

Combolnad Radio Review: Don Dixon at Papa Mojo's

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This was the first time I have seen a Dixon show since the early 90's. I had seen him with Arrogance quite a few times since then but this is a totally different show. Don has had a prolific solo career releasing 9 solo Cd's plus a collaboration with Jamie Hoover and Jim Brock as "The Jump Rabbits", and a collaboration with wife Marti Jones, "Lucky Stars: New Lullabies For Old Souls". Not to mention all of the producing and song writing, acting... this is one multi-talented guy. There is so much material for him to choose from when compiling a set list for a show. Then again... I'm not really sure there was one.

The show started out with "Praying Mantis" which everyone in attendance at Papa Mojo's seemed to know and they responded as soon as the opening bass lick had been played. It's nice nice to play in front of a "home" crowd! The first set featured plenty of tunes from the "Jump Rabbits" "The Nu-Look" CD but also nuggets from Dixon's other CD's... songs like "Kitchen", "In A Politician's Bed", "Secret Room", again... there is so much to choose from. Dixon and crew sounded fabulous! Jamie's guitar work is impressive and Jim Brock is truly a world class percussionist. The three work together exchanging subtle cues and performing these songs superbly! Young artists could take a lesson from these guys and this performance on how to do a rock show! It moved along nicely, great song placement within the set. 40 plus years of performing for each of those guys provide the experience to do a great rock show. Plus they have the chops to pull it off. A couple of times Dixon would say "I'm tired... Jamie sing one". I don't know if that was planned or not but it did give the audience an opportunity to hear a few recent tunes from the Jamie Hoover/Spongetones repertoire. What a great show!!! As they stopped Dixon said they were taking a brief break but were going to play another set and there was a lot more to come. Boy was there!

The crowd thinned out a bit during the break. Man... those folks don't know what they missed. As a young musician Dixon was heavily influenced by Soul/R&B and Blues. You can hear it in his songs and in his vocal stylings. The second set of the night was a bit of a blues review with the owner of the venue, Mel Melton, joining the "Jump Rabbits" on stage and playing some incredible blues harmonica. Mel has had quite a bit of playing experience and fell right into the groove with the Blusey Rabbits as they played some fab Blues and R&B classics! Dixon had told me during the break to come up and remind him during the set to give Comboland Radio a plug. There was not one place during that set I dared to interrupt the flow. It was awesome!! More so because it was unexpected. A great treat to all of those who were still in attendance at Papa Mojo's. It was also further proof (as if we needed it!) of the depth of musical knowledge of Don, Jamie and Jim, and of their musical chops. It also showed how much the enjoy being on stage. Dixon did give Comboland Radio a plug at the end and I was thankful for that. He said "I told you to come up and remind me!!" "You know I forget!" I really couldn't do it. I was enjoying the show way too much.

I wrote a blog in response to Dixon's blog on MySpace about the April shows. His blog gave many, myself included, the impression that he was getting tired and may be slowing down. He said that was not his intention at all and that he was not "retiring". Well THAT was certainly some great news to hear, both as a fan and a friend. He certainly proved (again, if any was needed!) that he still has the playing chops and the ability and desire to entertain an audience. Let's hope he continues to do just that for a long time to come.

Papa Mojo's is a nice venue for an intimate show. And the food ain't bad either! Mel is a affable host who made folks feel welcome. We got there WAY early and had dinner. As we left our table so they could get a few more diners in he was concerned that we had been rushed but we assured him that was not the case. In fact the wait staff and hostess were great, as was the food. I would definitely go back... and if I lived there I would be a regular! At the end of the night we realized that there had been no smoking in the room. WOW! That was nice!

At this time Dixon only has one gig, June 28th in DC, on his site. I do know there is an Arrogance Birthday show coming up on Sept. 19th at the Cat's Cradle. So make sure you check his website and MySpace page often for updates and future gigs. Also buy a copy of the "Don Dixon & The Jump Rabbits" CD, "The Nu-Look". It is a great CD! Dixon's "Songs 101 - The Lyrics Of Don Dixon" is available too. I got my copy!

Have you gotten yours? Go to to Don's site now!

1 comment:

  1. Having seen Dixon & the Jump Rabbits 5-6 times in the last 2 years I can say the performance at Papa Mojos was one of the best....probably due to the cramped space and atmosphere...I assume it gave the boys an extra boost. But I've seen them play in Wilmington in front of only a dozen people and you would have thought it was a packed house based on the effort the band provided. You can always count on a high quality professional performance from Don, Jamie & Brock.