Jason Ringenberg – Old Town School Of Folk Music (Chicago, IL)
There was a time when you would no more have exposed your little boy or girl to Jason Ringenberg than to a mess of barbed wire. But the former poster boy for country punk is now more committed to raising children than raising hell, and for the moment, more committed to making music for toddlers than for the barroom set. Calling himself Farmer Jason, he recently put out an album of tunes about pigs and horseys and a tractor that goes chug chug chug on his spread in Tennessee.
Performing them by his lonesome at the Old Town School Of Folk Music on a cold Sunday afternoon, Ringenberg was exposed to a very different kind of anarchy than what he drew upon as a country rebel. But if he didn’t exactly conquer the noisy tots and toddlers with his one-man show, which had more spirit and friendly intentions going for it than Mr. Rogers-like naturalness, he kept the kids entertained with his animal cracks, audience-participation ploys, and opportunities to step out to “The Doggie Dance” and “He’s A Hog Hog Hog”.
For adult fans of the good farmer — a native of downstate Illinois whose parents were present (and, like him, dressed in overalls and straw hats) — there was more to enjoy than is sometimes the case with established pop artists working the kiddie circuit. Beyond their barnyard references, in the most basic ways, the songs were classic Jason, marked by crisp melodies, driving rhythms and a no-nonsense sensibility. You half-expected the back-curtain to part and Warner Hodges and the rest of the Scorchers to suddenly appear and charge tunes like “A Guitar Pickin’ Chicken”.
Jason related that when he performed “The Tractor Goes Chug Chug Chug” in Belgium, in the places where the audience was supposed to shout out “Deere” after “John”, they kept yelling “Beer!” That’s not difficult to understand. In any language, English, Romantic or Preschool, this music is an occasion to have a good time.