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  • Chris Farlie

Long Road Festival: Interstate Stage - Jim Lauderdale & The Game Changers

For some appearing at a festival is very much a chance to wheel out the greatest hits in front of an audience that may not be completely au fait with your work. With 35 albums behind him you could hardly blame Jim Lauderdale if he had such ideas except that he didn't. He is so rightfully proud of the work that he has been doing with his new band The Game Changers that he wanted to use this opportunity to showcase their work with him, so for many this meant hearing a bunch of new tunes - it certainly though did not mean hearing a set of substandard tunes.

From the moment he took to the stage Jim Lauderdale with his lengthy locks flowing down, did nothing but old school entertain. opening with "It Blows My Mind" from 2018's "Time Flies" album, it introduced us to his new band. The Game Changers came with 2 guitarists as well as the de rigeur drummer and bassist with the addition of a female fiddle player who also doubled up on backing vocals. Along with Jim's acoustic it was a fine onslaught of guitars although Jim's vocals were a little low down on the mix on the opening few numbers.

From the same album they would then launch into "The Road Is A River" with the four sets of vocals making a very powerful sound.

Jim then launched into some high tempo country with "That Kind Of Life ( That Kind Of Day )" with some truly rocking guitar sounds coming from the band. As they moved on to the title track of "Game Changer", Jim went on to explain how this band had be en playing with him for the last 5 years and that when told he could only bring two players with him - he insisted to his credit that he had to bring all 5. Whatever the problems had been with Jim's microphone were cleared for this tune - it also coincide with a terrible downpour outside the tent.

For "You're Hogging My Mind" Jim took old time rootsy country yet made it seem fresh as a daisy. In a truly magnanimous gesture for the next song - Jim would stand to the side of the stage and hand over lead vocals to Lillie Mae Rische for his 2002 song "I'm Happiest When I'm Moving" with Jim providing backing vocals.

There was time for a bit of uptempo funky country for "The Opportunity To Help Somebody Through It" which once again saw all 3 vocalists come together on the chorus along with some outstanding guitar work. this was timeless good time country no matter who was playing it.

It was back to the "Game Changer" album for "Friends Again" which had a lovely guitar line running through it. Jim is steeped in country history and found time to pay tribute to George Jones and Gram Parsons with "The King Of Broken Hearts" with Jim giving perhaps his most concentrated vocal performance.

The enjoyable set was to close with the uptempo rocking of "Halfway Down" from 1998's "Goodbye Song" album. It all made for a highly enjoyable start to the evenings entertainment.

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