The beers are a bit costlier in Washington and few bottles hit the wall, but Fort Worth's Juke Jumpers did the best they could to transform Desperados into a Texas roadhouse last night. While the six-piece band didn't pack the joint with people, it did fill it with the distinctive sound of Texas rhythm & blues, a sound created by the fusion of urban jazz stylings and rough-and-tumble blues. Although Jim Colegrove's slurred vocals were not particularly forceful, the band's exemplary ensemble playing and tight rhythmic riffing more than compensated.
Throughout the set, Johnny Reno's raw saxophone squawked and screeched with the unpredictable force of haunting masters like Illinois Jacquet. If Colegrove's guitar work, especially on "Dust My Broom," recalled the dynamic rocking style of Elmore James, co-guitarist Sumter Bruton played in the more urbane and refined style of Texas guitar giants T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth Brown.
If this band sounds revivalistic, it isn't. Hard rockabilly songs such as "Youbangi Stomp" and "You're Humbuggin' Me" were transformed into jumping Texas-style rockers. If fact, it is the effortless and natural absorption of Texas styles that renders the Juke Jumpers less revivalists than heirs to a vital and, thanks to them, living tradition. There was nothing it didn't swing or bounce off the stage, and all this from a band that, in the best Texas tradition, doesn't get loose until the early morning.