Known Johnson

June 10, 2006

Go ahead and . . . don’t jump

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 7:48 pm

File directly under S for surreal: it’s no secret there’s been a glut of Pickin’ On (name a band) “tributes” the past five years or so, and finally even Van Halen didn’t escape the focused attention of rock-lovin’ bluegrass afficionados, as Strummin’ With The Devil was released just this week. What makes this surreal is that the real-deal, David Lee Roth, appears on the album with one of the groups to sing “Jump.” Well, it only gets better. On the Tonight Show the other day, he appeared with the bluegrass outfit that recorded one of the two versions of the song found on this release to perform the song. And, I’ll use the word again, it was surreal. You can check it out here. Fan or not, I urge you to watch. It’s just too strange.

On the plus side:

  1. A surprisingly fun sounding cover in a genre you wouldn’t expect would work
  2. Roth looks good – maybe even clean and sober for once, which might be a first for any member of Van Halen
  3. He looked like he was having a good time
  4. His voice is in great shape

On the minus side:

  1. He looks very stiff (I read that this may be do to injuries he sustained from all those high kicks he used to do – no joke!)
  2. The strange grin throughout the performance (maybe he’s not so “clean and sober” after all)
  3. The stunted attempt at snapping along, followed closely by . . .
  4. Air-banjoing
  5. And finally: a bizarre similarity in appearance to Tony Danza


  1. I have this CD…it’s “better” than most of the Pickin’ On series (although I’m rather fond of the Dave Matthews tribute). I agree that Roth’s voice sounds very good…and that he appears to be (more) sober. It’s too bad Eddie can’t get his act together as well…….

    Comment by Tom Conley — June 11, 2006 @ 6:36 am | Reply

  2. The reviews I’m seeing say that the same, Tom, that this is one of the more impressive outings. I can actually hear how a DMB bluegrass tribute would work well, too, however.

    It’s kind of hard to believe that a band of the stature that Van Halen has achieved has members whose lives have fallen into such states of disgrace. I think DLR is really trying to do his best to right his recent wrongs. Eddie really does appear to be the problem spot in a Van Halen reunion now. Roth sure is up for it, and why wouldn’t the rest of the guys be up for it? Besides Michael Anthony working with Hagar lately, he and Alex sure aren’t doing much!

    Comment by Tom — June 11, 2006 @ 8:04 am | Reply

  3. I almost forgot….if you want to hear some insane bluegrass versions of “rock” songs, check out Hayseed Dixie.

    Comment by Tom Conley — June 11, 2006 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

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