Walking toward the Pour House Saturday night, I ran into a wide-smiling Jac Cain. This made me a little nervous, so I asked The Pour House soundman, "What do you think about tonight?" He responded with a deep, menacing laugh and not much more.
The Backsliders had not even partially reunited in a number of years until a benefit show at Slim's in late September. So, why now?
"Chip called, said he was doing a set at Slim's for a benefit and did I want to join him as a duo. I said, 'Sure, sounds like fun.' I found out JD and Danny were going to be there with another band and called Chip and said, 'Why don't we all get up there?'" Steve Howell recalls. "We didn't rehearse at all, just picked 7 or 8 songs and went for it."
The crowd that soon packed into The Pour House was of a mixed age range. Numerous conversations mentioned the regret of not seeing them years ago. At the same time, others were telling tales of epic performances at The Brewery and elsewhere.
What The Backsliders delivered was a fairly tight run through of songs that gather the best elements of two-step, honky-tonk and booming rock 'n' roll, a mix this area has been sorely missing since their end. Howell was a monster on lead guitar. As the band worked through all of their well-known songs, it was a pleasure to look around the room and see faces with the expression of pure joy. Cain was ear-to-ear for 90 minutes, throwing up horns and handing out high fives to all takers.
As the show began to wind down, I couldn't help but think, "Is this it?" Thankfully, The Backsliders will be back for another show in March at the Cat's Cradle.
Below we present two songs from either side of The Backsliders spectrum.