Farmer not so John,
Live at the Varsity Theater

Baton Rouge, LA, 7 November 1997. Approximately 1 hour. Category: Alternative Country-Rock. Overall Rating: **** out of ***** (Up to FNSJ's usually fine quality performance standards).

I have heard and read Farmer not so John compared to Wilco and Sun Volt, and while I think this comparison is not way far off, this is not so entirely fair. FNSJ's songs are incredible, and matched with Mack Linebaugh's sometimes quirky vocals and Richard McLaurin's lead & slide guitar, FNSJ goes beyond your usual country-rock stylings to provide an enticingly warm and heart- felt rock show that is at times plaintive and other times rockin'. Bass-player Brian Ray joins Linebaugh in composing several of their songs, including some that are among the best on their 1996 album release on Compass Records. Sean Keith's drumming is intense at times yet subtly nuanced when it needs to be. The four make up one of my favorite bands that sometimes makes its way through oft-music-starved Baton Rouge.

Farmer not so John opened up for Soul Hat in Baton Rouge on November 7th. A reliable source told me that approximately 600 tickets for the show had been pre-sold.

FNSJ started with "Fire in the Valley," perhaps one of their best songs. At first it seemed as though the vocal was a bit too loud compared to the other instruments, but this sensation soon faded. McLaurin really jammed on the guitar on this one, but then he always seems to do so. Next up was Brian Ray's "Rusty Weathervane," a great song, and in this performance I think Mack Linebaugh's vocals were even more clear than on the album although he seemed to play around near the end with his voice (joking around?). All of the other songs were great. Among the highlights was a song not on their eponymous album called "Meriwether," where the vocal and guitar were great, really rockin' stuff, and I'm one who usually likes their slower offerings.

Farmer not so John closed with their rousing "Farmer John" which always seems to get the crowd going. Although the crowd started filling in late, by the time FNSJ had finished their set, I think they'd won at least a couple of new fans judging by the warm reception. The only thing missing was perhaps a couple of songs including "Cradled" and "This is Our House," but certainly the time allotted for them was limited and FNSJ probably wanted to keep the set relatively upbeat considering the following act, Soul Hat. As usual, a great show by Farmer not so John. I certainly hope they'll be back some time in the next few months, perhaps after the release of their next album.

Next show: November 13--12th & Porter Nashville, TN.

Set List: 1 "Fire in the Valley"
2 "Rusty Weathervane"
3 "Every Street in Nashville"
4 "Paper Thin"
5 "Of Angels"
6 "Paperweight of the World"
7 "For You I Will Pretend"
8 "Me Too"
9 "Jockey Full of Bourbon" (by Tom Waits)
10 "Meriwether"
11 "For You I Will Pretend" (a different one)
12 "Farmer John"

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Page Copyright © 1997, Leslie Carl Seiler. All rights reserved. Reviewed 8 November 1997. Page updated 20 September 1998. HTML changes/broken links removed 28 March 2002.