B.J. has written so many good songs over the years that I didn’t know what he’d play at this gig, but all the choices felt just right for a relatively quiet barroom on a hot Wednesday night in the middle of Savannah’s slowest season. With little commentary and with a relaxed command of the stage, B.J. began the 70 minute or so set with — “Burn.flicker.die.”, “Hard to Quit”, “Wolves”, “Lonely Ain’t Easy”, and “Water in the Well”. Later on, the setlist included “Katharine Belle”, “Man I’m Supposed to Be”, “Hurricane”, and — of course — “Savannah Almost Killed Me”.
If you know anything about American Aquarium, you probably recognize a few of those titles — and you probably know that they come from a variety of albums the band has released over the last decade. BJ has bravely chronicled his emotional journey over those years — as a member of a band on the verge of breaking up, as a heavy drinker (now reformed), as a man unable to find his place in the world, as a chronicler of the frustrated hopes of small towns in the South. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what experiences BJ channels in the years ahead now that the band is finding well-deserved success, now that he’s sober, now that he’s got a wife that he’s clearly crazy about.
Contributors to this blog go to a lot of rowdy shows — from foot-stomping bluegrass to frenetic punk — but sometimes it’s nice to see an artist like BJ at the top of his game playing beautifully crafted songs with just the right amount of restraint.