Oh lord, here come the tears - Jonny Fritz and Joshua Hedley are stepping out on their own separate paths. But not after one final hurrah at the OG Basement, a well warranted reunion/celebration before Hedley begins careening toward the stars like Mickey Newbury riding Western atop a Space X rocket. Meanwhile, Fritz watches from atop the Hollywood Hills as he pulls out a two dollar bill from his silver suit pocket, wiping away a single proud tear at the visage. He was Joshua Hedley's biggest fan, proponent, associate, friend. "I'm always happy in hindsight," he whispers.
Anyway, we should probably place this HIGHLY questionable (but maybe kind of good?... No.) Fritz/Hedley fan fiction to the side in exchange for the simple recognition of the sublime show the pair put on this past Sunday. Good lord, was it a solid show. In fact, it might have been THE show of the year (so what if there are four months and change left in 2017; fight me irl). I mean, any show where Little Bandit, Josh Hedley, or Jonny Fritz are on the bill is going to be one of a certain ilk, but when all three share the bill, well hot dog, that's enough to make a sad man glad.
But before we get into the nitty gritty of the show itself, we should take a moment to appreciate the bounding, beautiful, and bewildering friendship that is Jonny Fritz and Josh Hedley. It seems like the two have been interminably linked for the past decade, in the best way possible. Hedley's been playing with Fritz at least since the Dad Country days, presumably longer. Anyway, the pair have toured the world and back together, slinging their songs and purveying their wares as best as they can from Australia to Tennessee. Most recently, the pair toured together in support of none other than Nashville's "seize the day, crush the CMA" conductor (and now Josh Hedley label mate) Margo Price, looking as impeccably sartorial as ever.
Now, with Hedley's new recording contract, who knows whether or not the pair's hijinks and seemingly satirical (and don't forget, sartorial) excellence will continue the way its always been, or it takes a new path remains to be unseen, but what's most important is that Fritz and Ol' Hed got to do it (at least) one last time before they head their separate ways. So with that in mind, there was a weight that was quietly apparent by the end of the set. Things would never be the same (in the best way possible).
So, rather than go blow for blow with a plebeian live music recap of the set, I'd prefer to hit the high notes with an abridged Cliff Notes version of a recap for the show. After Little Bandit's poignant opening set that featured a song or two dedicated to the Sweet Creep himself, Josh Hedley took the stage, and needless to say, those unfamiliar were nowhere near close to the depth and heart-renching country candor Ol' Hed was about to hit them with.
There were moments of undeniable adulation as Hedley informed his audience that most of the songs in his set would appear on his debut record due out next year on Third Man Records. Obviously, an ovation ensued, with whistles and cheers galore. Then he took a moment to recognize there was no set list before prefacing a story for a song about a one night stand - "This song made a woman cry one time. She came up to me after the set and said 'That was really beautiful, what was it about?' I said it was about a one night stand, but a nice one. She didn't like the song so much after that. Full disclosure most of my songs are sad. Don' worry though, Jonny's are a little more upbeat."
After Hedley's viscerally moving, country crooning set, the court jester of country music took the the OG Basement stage (if you can even really call it that) with Hedley planted firmly by his side, having exchanged his original Fritz guitar for his famed fiddle. And so began the potential swan song set of Fritz and Ol' Hed together once again, and it was a damn pleasure.
Fritz pulled all the tabled patrons closer to the stage for a "more intimate" show, and proceeded to tear through an 18 song set, featuring Dad Country and Sweet Creep standards, as well as some unreleased b-sides that will hopefully see the light of day soon.
In a somewhat disarming change of events, Fritz took a moment to reveal many a background story about the origins of many of the tunes.
Some of the origin and anecdotal stories that stood out:
- For "Are You Thirsty": Fritz was at Nikki Lane's birthday party at a bowling alley (presumably Donelson Bowl) when an old friend that no one had seen in a while showed up. Someone asked her where she'd been and she informed them all that she had stopped drinking. Following the song, Fritz cried into one of the many two dollar bills - "I found these in a storage unit here. Fuck yeah Jonny from eight months ago, you were cool."
- For "Social Climbers": After taking a moment to express his appreciation for both LA and Nashville, Fritz shared a Dave Rawlings quote on both cities - something to the effect of "Nashville and Los Angeles are great because they're two of the last cities totally propelled and influenced by their artist communities."
- For "I Love Leaving" - Fritz mentions that his father made both his and Hedley's guitars. Shortly after, he begins talking about learning his father was at point an emergency flight nurse, and proceeds to tell a ridiculous story worthy of Fritz immortalization. Basically, his dad flew in to save a guy that had his throat slit in a bar. Once they got the guy's throat taken care of, he could finally say whatever it was he was trying to tell the emergency crew while blood was spewing out of his neck. Turned out it was this - "Motherfucker came in [and slit his throat] and you know what he said to me!? 'Oh shit, you're the wrong motherfucker.'
Now, I realize that was a little more of a blow for blow recap than promised, but for as good as the show was, I can't say it wasn't warranted. Fritz made additional references to Tinder double dates with strangers and Robert Ellis (when is the Traveller record coming out!?), Jimmy Cousins, and writing "Chilidog Morning" with a four year old. Anyway, we'll likely be hard pressed in the coming months and years for another Jonny Fritz/Joshua Hedley headlining show, as big things are coming for Ol' Hed and Jonny continues his cavalcade of country music, but when it does, it'll be like nothing changed. Farewell to Ol' Hed and the Sweet Creep as we've known them, but hello to whatever the hell happens next.