Gospel music is the sound of hope. Gospel is Sam and Dave and Aretha. It's a Hammond B3 organ crying under the fingers of Stevie Winwood. Drawing on American music traditions — from Memphis, New Orleans, the rural south and the Heartland — Truth and Salvage Co. creates uplifting, pounding, loose, build-and-release rock and roll. And it was gospel music. That's what I kept writing in my notebook Saturday night at Radio Radio
By the end of the 90-minute show, fans had received a healthy dose of rock and roll spirituality, from a band that played with passion and an arms-around-each other attitude.
Saturday night, they dove into the tracks from their debut album (released last May) and a handful of covers, trading lead vocals and harmonizing like a mutant '60s streetcorner doo-wop folk-rock band.
An early highlight included "Hail Hail," on which band members offer questions and answers in song to some of life's problems. Oil? We should "ride horses and dig our hands into the dirt." Too simple? Only if you take it too literally. A sense of rural-ness and common sense inhabits nearly all the band's music.
A song introduced as from 1978, "Down to Middlecreek," grandly channeled Little Feat and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. "Jump the Ship" featured lead guitarist Scott Kennebrew's liquid, Black Crowes-influenced leads. "Heart Like a Wheel" found Tim Jones making a pop song sound anthemic by nicely building to a chord change near the end that jolted the crowd to cheers.
As with their last appearance in town, Indiana native Jones shined with his "Old Piano," prefacing the song by telling the crowd it "made dreams come true for us. And we sold out Radio Radio in Indianapolis." Jones was the Indiana boy, front and center, but it was a band in the finest sense of the term. They used the entire stage and obviously enjoyed playing music together, smiling, jumping up, and hopping inches from each other's faces as they played. Truth and Salvage Co. is a damn likeable band.
The band added in a new song, "Stars and Stripes," a chunky Midwest rock and roller which sounded untested but gritty and promising. On the road with their current material for more than a year, they had been playing much of it for months preceding the release. Jones told NUVO in a recent interview that they were going to drop some newer songs into the set, though they have no immediate plans to start making a second album.
"See Her" cycled The Band into the musical mix, conjuring "Stage Fright." Appropriately, they brought out The Band's "The Shape I'm In" as the final song of the night. Levon Helm would have been proud.