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Show review: Ha Ha Tonka/The Roseline at The Jackpot, 6.7.12

Show review: Ha Ha Tonka/The Roseline at The Jackpot, 6.7.12

A room full of eager, starry-eyed 30-somethings with sweat dripping from their pores. Lukewarm beers. Ceiling fans halfheartedly oscillating. The first signs of summer hit Lawrence at The Jackpot on Thursday night.

The evening began with Lawrence band The Roseline (pictured above), a group that has been made up of Colin Halliburton and a plethora of other revolving musicians since its 2005 inception. The group--a four-piece with standard instrumentation on Thursday--played to a steadily growing crowd, with its tightly-knit blend of country and Americana rock. The band weaved between sweet love songs and emotional songs of desperation. Elements of Neil Young's simple but brilliant song arrangements rang through The Roseline's music, accompanied by Halliburton's steady, easy-to-embrace vocals.

By the time The Roseline's set ended, the club was abuzz with a healthy balance of satisfaction and anticipation. From the moment Ha Ha Tonka kicked in with the a cappella intro of "St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor" to the end of the heavy-driving "Usual Suspects," the audience was in a thrilled, sweaty uproar. Brian Roberts commanded the stage with a robust vocal presence and a positive vibe felt by the entire room. His bandmates played with the same level of proficiency and vigor, not simply captivating the audience with the musical performance but with a collective, good-natured and overall playful energy.

For nearly an hour, the rhythm section of Lennon Bone and Luke Long pounded away alongside Roberts' clear, potent voice and Brett Anderson's upfront mandolin and lead guitar work. They consistently showcased their characteristic penchant for four-part harmonies, culminating in the a cappella song "Hangman," an old folk standard first popularized by Leadbelly. The crowd seemed familiar with their songs, which were mostly off their 2011 release Death of A Decade. Their mix of insightful lyrics with a blend of roots and feel-good rock was a hit with the most bearded of fans and college kids that may have wandered in out of summer break woes.

Ha Ha Tonka has received its fair share of national recognition. The band has appeared on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, played national fests like Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, toured with national acts such as Meat Puppets, Murder By Death and Old 97s, and is currently signed to Bloodshot Records (with the likes of Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle). The attention is well-deserved, as the group puts a unique spin on the folk music of the Ozarks, infusing it with rock, bluegrass and a healthy dose of soul. On Thursday and throughout their tour together, the raw sound of Ha Ha Tonka complemented the soulful voice of Langhorne Slim perfectly.

Editor's note: Since The Deli deals strictly with local/regional bands, we did not highlight Langhorne Slim's performance, but rest assured, he killed it.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco Auto, Drew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. In her spare time, she has no spare time, but fantasizes of the day where she can sleep and eat and travel to places where she can sleep and eat some more.


Published: June 11, 2012 |

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