*I’ve edited the original posting to correct a couple minor facts after receiving a cordial email from Mr. Richards.
I flew into Sarasota last night, the first order of business being the Jonathan Richards Band appearing at the White Buffalo Saloon. It was my first time in this venue, a rather nice if simple place, and first time to catch this band in person. Even if the band turned out to be not what I hoped for, at least I thought I’d have an excuse to put the work down and do some dancing. Plans went astray.
A five piece band, that as it turns out is better in part than the whole, the Jonathan Richards Band lacks identity. Richards’ voice is good if a bit limited. The guitar player was really good and probably the highlight of the band.
However, while this is suppose to be a country band, the guitar player, Richards, and the drummer were their best doing rock-n-roll. The two best songs of the night were covers of ‘La Grange’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. The bass player was in his own universe and the band wasn’t in sync musically or in personality.
Essentially, what the audience ended up with on this night was a country recording artist playing rock and country, resembling more of a cover band that needed more rehearsal time together to get in sync. There was nothing to draw the audience in and attach them to the band on stage and it showed. In part, this may have been due to the fact that White Buffalo is a line dancing venue but fluidity was lacking.
Jumping from one style of music to the next left a void for there was no flow to the night. The crowd steadily thinned out as the night progressed. By 11 p.m. the audience wasn’t even clapping anymore. By 1 a.m. you could count the number of people still there on your fingers. This led to a bizarre moment.
Richards got serious on a song and tried to talk to the audience – except there was was no audience beyond three friends of the band sitting on the side. I leaned over and asked, ‘Who is he talking to at this point?’ The fact that Richards went through a clearly rehearsed part of the show even though it didn’t fit with what was happening with the crowd, demonstrates a lack of stage maturity. Again, it goes back to ‘flow’.
As for my dancing plans, well, I have never been in a country venue where line dancing was ALL the people did. They line danced to everything including hip-hop which the DJ put on by request between band breaks. Seeing people line dance to Pitbull is disturbing and should not be tried on your local dance floor. Take my word for it. But the dance floor was only full when the DJ played hip-hop or other genres of music besides country. The owners of White Buffalo might want to take a hint and consider switching the theme of the place.
Overall, the night was a bit of a bust. I came away with nothing, not even a good dance. The Jonathan Richards Band has potential. If they picked up a new bass player, and honestly, switched to rock-n-roll and struck on an identity, they’d be a band worth catching-up with a year from now. Right now, they’re an above average cover band for your local watering hole.