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Jason Ringenberg

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JASON RINGENBERG

If Jason & the Scorchers had made their first couple records in the early 90s instead of the early 80s, their searing combination of fiery energy and aching sentiment would have already made an alt-country cult hero out of founder Jason Ringenberg. Unfortunately, as the 90s were dawning, the Scorchers blew it, turning up the slick rock and diminishing both the power and the glory. (Believe it or not, they still exist, touring sporadically and recording even more sporadically.) But on his second solo record, A Pocketful of Soul, Ringenberg demonstrates that his talent was never dead, only buried. The album, released on his own Courageous Chicken label, is a beautiful country-folk statement from a man who seems to have burned off much of his youthful rage. "Last of the Neon Cowboys," written with Kevin Welch, is a love song to his chosen profession; "Oh Lonesome Prairie" is a love song to his native midwest; the supersappy but nonetheless touching "For Addie Rose" is a love song to his daughter; and most of the other cuts are love songs to the usual "you" and "she." Even the mournful "The Price of Progress," nominally a protest tune, is as much a love song to the farmer who endures (and at last takes his furtive revenge) as it is a rant against the Tennessee Valley Authority. And, lest you thought he'd left the exciting 80s completely behind, in a mighty stroke of good taste Ringenberg covers Guadalcanal Diary's haunting 1985 single "Trail of Tears," which in a better world would be a standard. On the record everything's beautifully arranged for fiddle, banjo, guitar, accordion, pedal steel, mandolin, cello, Dobro, recorder, harmonica, and a few other instruments (most of them played by producer George Bradfute), but here Ringenberg will accompany himself on guitar. Friday, January 12, 7:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

MONICA KENDRICK

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