Jukebox Threero: Jason Ringenberg
You may have noticed that we at III Communication love Jason & The Scorchers, the progenitors of cowpunk. Having a young child, I also love Farmer Jason, the kid-friendly alter ago of front man Jason Ringenberg (Hank III’s duet about manatees is a favorite).
But, apparently, they are legend across Conference III.
Way back around the turn of the century, (Illinois native) Jason Ringenberg, formerly of the outstanding Jason & The Scorchers, came to play at Dolan’s in Limerick, Ireland. He was touring his solo record “A Pocketful Of Soul“, the house was packed with fans both old and new and we had a great night. My strange friend Mark even interviewed Jason for his even stranger fanzine (in which I was once remarked upon as “The man who puts the ‘Kerd’ into our Husker Du”)
So, when he came back the following year, the same venue (Limerick’s largest and best) was booked in anticipation of another sellout. Sadly, there was something else on in town and the weather was foul and.. actually I still don’t know what went wrong. The attendance ended up being more Dallas than Chicago. 22 people came. Including Jason, the promoters and sound engineer the total in the echoing, empty venue was 33. Disaster.
However, Jason rose to the occasion with all the resilience and sense of dignity that Conference III embodies. He unplugged his guitar, told Mike,the soundman, that “You’ve got the evening off” (Mike claims that he had a joint rolled within 30 seconds of hearing that), jumped down off the stage and encouraged us to draw around him in a tight semi-circle. He then proceeded to blow us away by playing a storming set of songs, no microphone, just him and his acoustic guitar, stamping his cowboy boot on the wooden floor for percussion.
It was, of course, great. The absolute pinnacle was reached when he announced (for the encore), in a hushed and sombre tone, that “I’d like to close tonight with what I consider to be the greatest bit of poetry written in the States since the war”. We were preparing for some Frost, maybe William Carlos Williams or even ee cummings. We were open to this. He took a breath and began to recite those immortal lines:
“20-20-24 hours to go/I wanna be sedated”
The place erupted. I looked over at my friend Niall, a huge Ramones fan who later organised an annual charity “Night For Joey” for many years, and the smile on his face will stay with me forever.
Easily one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. Glory snatched from potential despair. Most Conference III gig ever.