After an extra long weekend of late nights,
loud music, and smoky bars, some of us minions recover at our
favorite Sunday brunch outing: The EARL’s Dunch, a soothing
mixture of hash browns, acoustic music, and Bloody Marys. Dunch
can be a risky proposition, though, because some bands are,
well, not necessarily as “hangover friendly” as The EARL would
hope. And, some bands are just not suited to Dunch’s cramped
window-corner stage and its ubiquitous sound of tinkling forks.
And sometimes, bands have been known to show up closer to suppertime
But, as with any venue, atmosphere, or playbill, one band stands
out as the quintessential Dunch band: The Bluejays. This five-piece
alt-country act integrates two-part vocal harmony with smooth
pedal steel guitar and tight rhythmic backing. The Sunday afternoon
in question was particularly pleasing, and not just because
Dunch’s special dish was trout. The Bluejays played an exceptionally
tight set highlighting what has become a solid mixture of country/roots
originals and folk/rock covers. Most songs are led by what I
presume to be the band’s namesake, Jay Murphree, whose velvet
voice echoes some of the best old time crooners. Perhaps one
of the most beautiful is the original, What Kind of Girl?
That song, along with several other of the band’s best (You’ll
Cry, Too; Never Promised You a Rose Garden) is just
about the only music that ever made me wish I could two-step.
Not that The Bluejays are easily classified. Just as soon as
they hit critical mass with their version of country-fried roots,
Matt Spaugh steps out of the backing vocals to add a more classic
rock feel, covering such standards as 19th Nervous Breakdown.
(Spaugh is also known to cover Last Train to Clarksville,
but it was sadly missing on this Sunday.) Though his backing
harmony blends well with Murphree’s chocolate delivery, Spaugh’s
rendition of Train, Train reveals a gravel voice closer
akin to Bob Dylan than Roy Rogers.
With their mixture of unplugged-friendly instruments like acoustic
bass, subtle rhythm guitar, and quiet snare, The Bluejays both
soothe the tired ears of many Dunch patrons and accentuate the
grits ‘n eggs short-order feel of the EARL in the afternoon.
Even with five members, makeshift equipment, and a small setup
space, The Bluejays seem to mix some of the best live sound
in town. Few bands could negotiate multiple cell phones, frequent
slamming doors, and occasional crying infants as effortlessly.
With an older, laid-back lineup of musicians, they are arguably
the most mellow band I’ve seen in Atlanta. In the words of another
minion, “They’re sort of country music on Quaaludes.” Now, that’s
what I call “hangover friendly” music.