If there ever was a phrase that sounded oxymoronic (you know, jumbo shrimp; military intelligence) it’s one admittedly created by J.D. McPherson, the man, the band opening for Robert Plant at the Bowl Sunday, May 31. “Yeah, I coined it,” he said, laughing on the phone from his home in Oklahoma. “It was ‘1950s psychedelic’ and it was something that we were looking for, a sound, when we were making the record Let The Good Times Roll, it’s what I told my producer Mark Neill I was looking for–you know all the weird noise effects they got on some of those records back then.”
Of course it’s easy to understand what he meant, even though the rise of true psychedelic music, from the Beatles to 13th Floor Elevator was what metaphorically killed 1950s rock. “Yeah but when people think about the 1950s, they think of you know like Doris Day, but a lot of weird stuff was happening,” said McPherson. “There was a counterculture, Allen Ginsberg, the rest of the beats, and in painting, too. I like a lot of midcentury stuff, but it’s the weird part I appreciate most.”
It’s not an obsession, he claimed, though McPherson’s twangy roots sound seems trance-channeled from a southern sock hop. “But I live right now,” he protested. “I wouldn’t want to live in the mid-century. I like the psychedelic aspect because I’m a big fan of [contemporary] psych music,” explained McPherson, who is crazy about Thee Oh Sees, Luscious, and the Oklahoma band Broncho. Unlike those bands, however, McPherson’s seems plucked directly–more like the Blasters than the Cramps, more a vintage stock car than a hot rod.
“I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, there wasn’t a lot to do and they didn’t have art programs in the grammar school, so I had to go to the big city when I could for culture,” he explained. Soon enough, McPherson and a friend discovered punk rock and had a band and played two gigs. “Every kid whose idle setting is frustration ought to be in a punk band,” he said. Just as he was getting tired of two chords, though, a girl he liked who ran a CD store gave him a Buddy Holly collection she was about to toss. The rest was a long trip through history rich with a love for the small towns like the one that spawned the Crickets. “I get Lubbock Texas,” he laughed.
McPherson has two CDs himself and he’s very present on You Tube (take a look at “North Side Gal”) and he’s more than dazed and confused by the thought of opening on a short tour with Robert Plant. “You kidding? He’s Rock 101. There’s the Zeppelin stuff, of course, but I love the Honeydrippers and the album he did with Allison Krauss is one of my favorites.” He paused and sighed. “I’m getting ready for the big trip.”
J.D. McPherson opens for Robert Plant Sunday, May 31, at the Bowl, (1122 N. Milpas St). Call 962-7411 or see sbbowl.com.