Reinvented Trigger Hippy: new twists on same groove

Trigger Hippy newcomers Ed Jardi and Amber Woodhouse, right, showed last night at Brighton Music Hall that they have fallen right into the groove.

LIVE SHOW REVIEW

When Trigger Hippy made their AmericanaFest debut in Nashville in 2014, their performance was universally hailed as one of the best at the talent-laden festival that September. And it had a lot of star power behind it with co-founders and ex-Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman and Nashville-based songwriter and bassist Nick Govrik providing the rhythm section behind Jackie Greene and Joan Osborne.
Their jam-heavy mix of country and soul was almost hypnotic in its spell — a shimmying call to the dancefloor. The band was just releasing an eponymous debut album that month, and the future appeared unlimited.
Alas, as happens with many “supergroups” the busy schedules of Osborne and Greene led to their amicable departure after less than a year of touring. Reforming a band with new members is a dicey proposition, but Gorman and Govrik still relished the vision of Trigger Hippy and weren’t ready to quit on it.
Enter former Band of Heathens singer and guitarist Ed Jurdi and saxophonist and singer Amber Woodhouse, whom Gorman and Govrik discovered through a tip from Mike Grimes, owner of the famed Music City record store Grimey’s. After hearing her front a band at a local honky tonk, they began hanging out and singing together. Suddenly Trigger Hippy was reborn.
Playing last night at Brighton Music Hall in support of their aptly named new album, “Full Circle and Then Some,” the seventh stop on the tour of the reincarnated Trigger Hippy showed that promise was reborn.
Jurdi is the linchpin in the new dynamic. His guitar and singing are certainly on a par with Greene, and I like Jurdi’s voice better.
Woodhouse does most of the lead singing and while she may not have the multi-platinum star power of Osborne, she has magnetic stage presence and the instrument for the role in a resonant and versatile voice. Her saxophone, at least for now, seems little more than a stage prop. She played it for what amounted to one-and-a-half songs.
The rhythm section of Gorman and Govrik remain the backbone of the band and last night they were thumping. The core band was rounded out by British teen guitar whiz Sol Philcox-Littlefield — who moved to Nashville at 18 and is making an imprint in his first year — and keyboardist Jimmy Rowland.
The band breezed through all 12 songs on the new album, and interestingly revisited just one tune, “Heartache On The Line,” from the other incarnation of Trigger Hippy, wanting to perhaps clearly set the new course without inevitable comparisons to the original lineup and material.
Playing to a half-capacity room last night suggests that the draw of the lost star power may take awhile to reclaim. The show was not quite as dynamic as the 2014 AmericanaFest showcase at the Cannery Ballroom, but color me — and most of the fans in attendance last night — impressed and eager for more. During the highlight of the 95-minute show, a long-burning version of “Born to Be Blue,” one fan couldn’t resist taking part as the song quieted to its decrescendo. He yelled with loud conviction, “You guys fucking rock!”
The quick and hearty reaction of the crowd proved it agreed.

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Local soul songstress Jill McCracken and her band opened the show with tunes from her sparkling debut album “Shake Me Up” and a few new ones. The unsigned Buffalo native, who says after five years in Boston she recently settled on her new sound after being more of an indie rocker, has made a wise choice. Her blend of jazzy soul and pop is reminiscent of Lake Street Dive, a Boston band you might have heard of before.