Guitarist/vocalist George McConnell doesn’t waste any time in letting you know that he and The Nonchalants mean business on Cheers Sports Fans! “Take Me to the Show” leads off with all the thunder of vintage Who at Leeds. From there, Cheers offers everything from moments of raggedy-ass Exile-style grittiness (“A Thousand Things”) to midnight gasoline shimmer (“Burn In Flames”) to bar-slamming swagger (“Kill The Man”) and wistful stagger (“Grinning Mischievously”). “Bay Of Scorn” has the acoustic-electric yin-yang of a cool old Grin tune, while “Black Mamba” is sheer grease. If John Sebastian and Taj Mahal spent an afternoon together hangin’ on the riverbank, then it would sound just like “Whistlin’ Fishin’ Blues.” And “Oldsmobile Blues” is one of those had-to-be-the-album-closer tunes à la the Stones’ “Moonlight Mile.” This is the sound of a talented man in a good place in life. Cheers to you, George. –Brian Robbins
George McConnell’s Singles Only is just what it says: a collection of the singles the veteran guitarist has made available on his website as A- and B-sided “virtual 45s.” Of course, we dinosaurs who actually lived the days of the little black records with the big ol’ holes in the middle of them will remember that the b-sides were usually thought of as the weaker tracks that sometimes didn’t ever see the light of day on an album … but often turned out to be hidden treasures. As far as Singles Only goes, forget about the As and Bs – the good ones are good and that’s it.
Though he’s been making music for the better part of 25 years, George McConnell has just now released his very first solo album, titled Singles Only. Through a series of records and years of touring with Beanland, Kudzu Kings and Widespread Panic, the Mississippi-bred guitarist has been showing glimpses of his songwriting skills all these years, with influences ranging from R&B to country. We hear that here as well. “In Walked You” is a delicious mid-tempo R&B groove, while “Mr. Cropper” is an unapologetic tribute to Memphis soul.