On a rainy Friday the 13th on Ballard Ave two Texas troubadours turned Seattle’s center of the hipster universe into a genuine lone Star roadhouse. Jesse Dayton and Rod Melancon are label mates on Blue Elan Records and make their homes in Austin so a joint tour was long overdue. Melancon casually strolled onto stage and picked up his Gibson J45 off the floor introduced himself as a polite southern gentleman should before launching into “Westgate,” with its shout out chorus, the first of his 10-song set of stories from real life in the small towns of Louisiana. Melancon has the look of a young Elvis and the voice of a young Johnny Cash but his songs have dark truths behind the old-time country veneer. Alternating between tunes from his latest record, Southern Gothic and Blue Elan debut Parish Lines, he used his easy southern charm to introduce songs such as “Mad Talking Man,” South Louisian,” and his radio hit “Redhead.” He also offered up challenges to the crowd to listen close to the words of the wounded warrior toned “Different Man,” and sincerely thanked everyone for welcoming him to Seattle for the first time.
Jesse Dayton and his barnstorming trio took the stage next and leapt into his anthem to hard working Texas men “Daddy Was a Bad Ass,” from his last album The Revealer. Backed by the cracker jack rhythm section and partners in crime Christopher Lee Rhoades & Kevin Charney, who have been on tour non-stop for four years all over the US and Europe. The hard-won skills of a tight road band show though in every move this power trio made on their high energy 75-minute set. On this night at the Tractor, Dayton and his crew tried out five new songs off The Outsider, which will be out this summer. Swinging his big black hollow body guitar around like a toy and blazing thru metal and country chicken picking’ licks with ease is why he has been called upon to play on records for Waylon, Willie, Supersuckers, X and Rob Zombie. Dayton’s band debuted soon to be Hardcharger favorites “Hurtin Behind the Pine Curtain,” the topical “Belly of the Beast,” and the comic sing along “I May Have To Do It, (But I Don’t Have to Like It),” carrying the torch of Outlaw Country. Dayton is a master story teller and shared real-life events he wove into songs on the lament “Mrs. Victoria Beautiful Thing)” and his tribute to George Jones “Possum Ran Over My Grave.” The emotional climax of the night came during his new hillbilly protest song “ Charlottesville,” which he introduced by explaining that his grandfather fought in world war II against the Nazis and if he were alive today he’d have gathered the fellas together and drove to Virginia to take care of the Tiki torch waving Mother F**kers, and it wouldn’t have been pretty. But Dayton not to be one leaving the place on a sour note closed out the set by rocking out on the love gone wrong song “Take Out The Trash,” and the red neck rocker about the prettiest girl on the bayou who’s hotter than a “3 Pecker Goat.”