Last night was the first live performance of Jason Diaz and his new project, The Tin Drums; but you wouldn’t have known that if Jason hadn’t said so at the end of their first song, “Banks Over Yonder.” His announcement was followed by an audible gasp from the audience which broke into applause; not surprising, considering the sound we’d just heard was, in a word, flawless. If you missed this show, please, for your own sake, don’t let yourself miss the next.
What most impresses about Jason is that every performance reveals a stronger voice that never fails to elevate ones spirit beyond the confines of earth, briefly setting it free to revel in the inspired emotion induced by each note of that otherworldly voice. Last night presented Jason the opportunity to demonstrate the year of growth he alluded to in our interview, and he seized the moment, revealing not just a stronger voice but a bolder one and an even stronger musician. Last night Jason showed his fans a more mature performer that is comfortable leading his band, engaging the crowd with back and forth banter as well as subtle direction, and most importantly, in holding his own talent.
Refreshingly, Jason has somehow stubbornly kept just the right degree of grounded humility to remember that his inequitable gifts make a career of performing music a possible privilege and not an entitled right to take for granted. Whether seated or standing, onlookers could not help but discard their normal LA cynicism and found themselves moving intuitively to the music as Jason’s Tin Drums worked their way through a set of mostly new, original songs. When Jason remarks how fantastic it is to play on ‘such a nice stage’ with everyone so ‘respectfully’ listening and enjoying, it is not jaded laughter but further applause for the “most unlikely heard at a rock’n’roll show” comment that greets him from the crowd of LA’s elite hipster jet-set. You can’t make that reaction up, gang.
As Jason broke out the banjo late in the set with a self-deprecating “I can play but I’m no Steve Martin or anything,” your girl in music thought back to her agency days, when, while backstage with Steve Martin and John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), she had actually held in her (awestruck) hands his incredibly heavy, ornate, early depression-era banjo; of strumming a few notes, and of the infinitely more beautiful sound made when that instrument was back in the hands of it’s rightful owner. Jason may not yet boast the grammy-winning prowess of Steve Martin on the 5 string guitar, but your girl in music must say, he doesn’t have much further to go yet, and with 10 times the voice, just wait until he finds the banjo that already belongs to him. In the meantime, it will be such a privilege and pleasure to witness the journey.
Final Assessment: Jason Diaz and The Tin Drums came, he sang, they conquered.
Banks Over Yonder
Under the Big Sky
Let it Ride