Tighten those spurs and grab the reins, Queenstown, Oregon’s raucous country music outlaws are headed our way.
Jenny Don’t and the Spurs play Sherwood tomorrow, and they’re promising an energetic show.
The Portland, United States, four-piece pride themselves on not being a ‘‘cookie cutter’’ band; their roots lie in garage and punk.
Speaking to Mountain Scene mid-way through a 15-hour drive across Australia’s New South Wales, they’ve been gigging up a storm for the past few weeks, with stops in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as smaller places, like country-loving Tamworth.
On stage, they pack a punch.
Bassist, and co-founder Kelly Halliburton says ‘‘our vibe is rowdy and energetic, we’re kind of a rough and tumble, seat-of-your-pants outfit’’.
‘‘We’re all big music fans, within the band there’s such a wide range of musical interests and styles that we listen to, so that finds its way
into the music we make,’’ he says.
Their genre sometimes confounds music writers, but Halliburton says originality is the key to their success.
‘‘If we wanted to make straight forward, orthodox country, it’d be difficult.
‘‘That’s what makes us stand out a little bit and makes it hard for us to be completely accepted by the traditional country scene.’’
This is their second trip to Aotearoa — they were here briefly last year but are excited this time to play 14 shows and to get to the
While influenced by country greats like Wanda Jackson and Lee Hazlewood, they’ve added their own twist to the country genre, with fast-picking guitar courtesy of Christopher March.
Lead singer Jenny Connors, who’s married to Halliburton, not only knocks out a distinctive vocal but she also sews a lot of her stage
outfits, sometimes staying up all night after a gig to finish them off for the next show.
The last three years have been a rollercoaster for these alt country and western trailblazers.
First, Connors underwent surgery for polyps on her vocal chords — after conflicting medical opinions she opted for surgery which was successful, but required 12 weeks’ rest.
Afterwards, they recorded the ‘Fire on the Ridge’ album, ‘‘but then Kelly got sick’’, she says.
‘‘He had an out-of-the-blue crazy internal infection, so we dealt with that and we thought OK we are back on track.
‘‘Then Sam passed away.’’
Sam Henry was the original drummer who died after contracting abdominal cancer.
That tragedy initially stopped the band in its tracks.
‘‘We sat and talked about what we were going to do, and it really just kind of solidified how important this is to us and everything that we’re doing,’’ Connors says.
‘‘Stopping would’ve meant all Sam’s work would be in vain.
‘‘Sam had dedicated 10 years of his life to the band and was on tours with us pretty much until he passed away.
‘‘We are stronger as a unit after all those setbacks.’’
New drummer Buddy Weeks has now been with Jenny Don’t for almost a year and the group say while Sam’s much-lamented, the
new percussionist has stepped in brilliantly.
Halliburton says, as a group, they just ‘‘do what we do’’.
‘‘We love playing shows, we love travelling, we love making music — honestly, at the end of the day, I don’t care whether we are accepted by anyone or not.
‘‘I mean, it’s nice if people come to our shows, but we make music ’cos we like to make music and because the whole lifestyle appeals to us.’’
Connors: ‘‘It’s definitely more fun if there’s more people at the shows, I’ll tell you that.”
Queenstowners unfamiliar with their sound should go to the latest release, The Singles Roundup, an anthology of early singles from 2013 to ’21.
Meantime, there are plans to replicate some of the band’s high energy on record with a live album, possibly as soon as next year.
Supporting Jenny Don’t are Christchurch troubadours Adam Hattaway and the Haunters, featuring Elmore Jones and Holdyn Skinner.
With their rocking sensibilities and alternative country bent, they’ll be a great fit for the Americans.
Jenny Don’t and the Spurs, supported by Adam Hattaway and the Haunters, Sherwood, Saturday, from 8pm. Tickets, $25, via Eventfinda