Best of bands 2015: Jack Mercer and the Whiskey Bandits

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      Remember that old Johnny Cash hit where a boy named Sue ends up fighting his father in the middle of the street, kicking and gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer? On his unvarnished-Americana full-length Lonesome Dreams & Wild Things, Jack Mercer sounds like the kind of guy who’d be standing on the sidelines with a bottle of Wild Turkey in one hand and a blazing Colt Peacemaker in the other. Backed by his Whiskey Bandits—viola player Ian Cromwell, bassist Tom Kuzma, and drummer Nate Campbell—the singer, multi-instrumentalist, and honest-to-God tugboat captain does gunsmoke country in the tradition of greats like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and, of course, Johnny Cash. Yes, saddle up with Mercer, and you can almost smell the mud and the blood and the beer.

      Best local release other than yours: “It would absolutely have to be For You by Twin Bandit’s Jamie Elliott and Hannah Walker. I’ve known Jamie for many years, but when I first heard her and Hannah harmonize those sweet, seductive melodies I almost melted. We had the pleasure of gigging with them a few times over the past year and they are two of the finest singer-songwriters around. Go buy it!”

      The year’s best gig: “Hands down, it was Shakey Graves at the Commodore Ballroom [on July 22]. He is one of the best performers touring at the moment and he had the sold-out crowd in the palm of his hand. I think everyone would have followed him off a cliff if he’d asked us to do so! That is how much of a captivating talent he is.”

      Best album ever: “To be honest, when people ask me this question I want to throw my entire record collection at them and say ‘Fuck it, you choose!’ It is a decision that is more based on mood than preference and we all know how quickly moods can change. Current mood: Townes Van Zandt, Live at the Old Quarter. One of the greatest songwriters of all time. Period.”

      Francesco Aquilini’s paying—Where’s dinner?Shebeen Whiskey House [212 Carrall Street], hold the food. We’ll take one of everything because they have a very impressive selection of whisky from all over the world, and I can’t imagine what the bill would be like after that sitting! Thanks, Francesco!”

      In the spirit of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You”, who do you really, really like? “It is too bad that he has recently gotten engaged, because I really, really, really like Kyle Grant Statham from the band Bear Mountain. When he wears that white onesie and does his signature ‘stumble three-step, you think I’m drunk but I’m totally sober, awesome sex time’ move on-stage? Wow, what a fuckin’ stud…”

      You won Lotto Max. Where’s your club opening up? “The old derelict McBarge from Expo 86 that’s anchored in Indian Arm. As a bonus, I am also a tugboat captain by day and could tow it to new locations each week!”