Review by Paul Davis, photos by Lisa Billingham
We’ve had special nights like this before at the Slade Rooms, with a band on the verge of great things playing to a packed house, Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement come to mind. But before The Cadillac Three, who are ‘all about the south’ we have a support band from the north of England, Blackburn to be precise.
Sky Valley Mistress may be an unfamiliar name to some but they made an appearance at Download a couple of years back. Tonight they impress a sizeable crowd and when, a couple of songs in, Kayley Davies states that “We are Sky Valley Mistress and we play rock and roll”, that’s exactly what they proceed to do. It’s bluesy rock and roll not dissimilar to Blues Pills, with the influences of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin never far away. They have a recently released EP called Rivals, Hounds & Rebel Sisters and I’m sure a few of us present tonight will be checking that out soon.
“We’re The Cadillac Three from Nashville, Tennessee, we’re jetlagged and drunk as fuck”. That’s Jaren Johnston getting the party started tonight as the southern sensations rocked the Slade Rooms. ‘Party Like You’ is the opener from their just released EP Peace Love & Dixie. Following ‘Tennessee Mojo’ (“all about where we’re from”) Jaren talks about the band’s excitement on the first night of their sold out UK tour. They’ve come a long way since playing that little room at Birmingham Institute almost exactly a year ago.
Jaren gets emotional when the crowd take over singing duties at the start of ‘White Lightning’. Whiskey and beer are never too far away in the lyrics of The Cadillac Three and ‘I’m Southern’ is no exception. There are namechecks for Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Rolling Stones, as well as Patsy Cline and Don Williams in the lyrics. When he’s not fronting The Cadillac Three, Jaren is also a Grammy nominated songwriter to country stars like Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. However, as a live act, Jaren, Kelby Ray (Lap Steel/Bass) and Neil Mason produce a heavier sound than you would expect.
‘The Sticks’, ‘Get Your Buzz On’ and ‘Turn It On’ are all great examples of what the band calls ‘country fuzz’ where all their influences come crashing together. We’re told that the band nearly died trying to cross the road in London yesterday before we get some ‘Whiskey Soaked Redemption’. The main set ends with ‘Days Of Gold’ and Jaren picking up sticks and joining Neil Mason on the drums.
We all know that ‘Freebird’ will always be the southern rock anthem but The Cadillac Three have a few of their own. To end the evening, ‘The South’ takes us to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Carolina and Florida. And of course, there’s some beer and Tennessee whiskey involved. Once again, the Slade Rooms crowd are in good voice for the refrain of ‘This is where I was born and this is where I’ll die’. The Cadillac Three ended last year as ‘best new band’, as voted for by readers of Classic Rock Magazine. This year is already shaping up to be equally special.