The JD Set 2010 Thumped doesn’t normally get invited along to things like this, so imagine our surprise when an invite came in to attend the Jack Daniel’s birthday gig & JD Set 2010 launch in London…

Thumped doesn’t normally get invited along to things like this, so imagine our surprise when an invite came in to attend the Jack Daniel’s birthday gig & JD Set 2010 launch in London. It would have been rude to say no, so Aoife Barry packed her overnight bag and made the trip. It’s a hard life.

Thanks to a fire that razed through a Tennessee courthouse, no one knows for sure on what day Jack Daniels was born. But what is known is that he was probably born in September of 1850, and so on that month each year celebrations take place to honour the distillery founder’s name – and true to the legendary drink that he created, which is beloved of musicians, the birthday festivities revolve around a musical event. This year, that event was a gig that took place in a dim warehouse in London’s hip Shoreditch area, and the musicians that gathered to celebrate Jack’s birthday could have happily shared a drink or two with him were they in his home town back in the day.

The JD Set gigs began in 2004 with a show by the Flaming Lips, and since then Frank Black, Patti Smith and Elbow’s Guy Garvey are just some of the musicians who have gathered to raise a glass on stage in Jack’s name. This year, it was turn of former Suede frontman Brett Anderson, ex-Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things member Carl Barat, and Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure, of Reverend and the Makers, to front the event. To add a bit of Southern magic to the proceedings, they were backed by the New Silver Cornet Band, a group whose members (Jon Tiven, David Hood, Billy Block and Wayne Carson) have played with everyone from Elvis to Muscle Shoals. It was fitting that the young were backed by the experienced, and the country vibes of the band added a frisson of oldtime authenticity to the proceedings. These silver-haired Nashville natives come together once a year to celebrate Jack’s birthday, and joining them this year were relatively newer recruits to the world of music – Rosie Vanier on keys, Elena Argriros on violin, Rosie Langley on violin and Edie Langley on cello, names that may not be hugely familiar to most but who certainly deserve to be. These women rocked hard, and their harmonies and strings added oomph where it was needed, while their version of ‘After the Goldrush’ was a set highlight.

In the hours before the gig, in the trendy members-only hangout of Shoreditch House, Brett, Carl and Jon met the press to chat about the Jack Daniels event. Together, they represented very different stages in the rock circle of life – there was Brett, an imposing, tall and slim figure, who’s been through the mill and seen it all before. Then there was Carl, who has experienced the fast ascent to fame and the downs of having his ex-bandmate rob from his home. The final member of the trio, Jon McClure, was the young, exuberant and enthusiastic one, not yet world-weary and eager to let his opinions be heard.

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