Tulsa, OK (February 8th, 2019) -On a frigid February night, in a small dive bar known as the Blackbird, located in the up and coming district known as The Pearl, a one-man Honky Tonk band played to a sizable crowd. Maybe you’re not familiar with this phenomenon known as Tennessee Jet that plays guitar, drum and harmonica (often all at once) during his shows, but it is truly a sight to see. TN Jet is the stage name of TJ McFarland, a man not unfamiliar with Oklahoma, as he was raised here. Having missed out on TN Jet when he was opening for Cody Jinks this summer, I was happy to see he would be returning to Tulsa for a show, as he’s been on my must-see list for some time.
As local musician, Steve Liddell, played on-stage, Tennessee Jet stood near the bar, looking much like a combination of Jack White and Dwight Yoakam in his blue jeans, black leather jacket, pale cowboy hat and boots. At times he would greet fans or friends that were attending the show, but would soon return to silence. He has a quiet intensity about him and he brings that intensity to his set. There’s something remarkable about what takes place during a Tennessee Jet performance. It isn’t just his playing or his songwriting, which are equally as amazing, but what truly got my attention was how those in attendance listened. There weren’t any quiet murmurs or drunken hollering. No friends chatting about any number of topics while a performer plays. Just silence and attentiveness to what is taking place on stage.
The set was made up of songs from both of TN Jet’s albums and a few well chosen covers. Jet opened with “What Kind of Man”, a heavy song about alcohol addiction, before introducing “Lifers” the song he co-wrote with Cody Jinks, which was the title track of Jinks’ latest album, released this past summer. “Ain’t Afraid to Die”, “Sparklin’ Burnin Fuse” and the newly recorded“Stray Dogs” were all part of the set. Not one to shy away from serious topics, “Never Forget”, a scarily accurate song about PTSD was followed by “Kurt Cobain” and “Couldn’t Care Less”. Peppering his set with jokes, commentary and stories about sipping red wine and playing small bars in Tulsa with Tom Skinner gave those in attendance a glimpse of the artist beyond his music.
Ditching his acoustic guitar for a gleaming red, electric Harmony guitar, TN Jet plugged in while the strains of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” played in the background. As the song ended, TN Jet went heavy on kick drum and electric guitar and launched into his re-imagined version of “Waymore’s Blues” an in your face rockin’ cover on an already great song. Next was my personal favorite song in the TN Jet catalog, “Hwy 51 Blues”, a song that sounds like it could have fit right in on the White Stripes album Elephant. The electric part of the set featured several other great covers like “Ramblin Fever”, “I Saw the Light” and ended with a mashup of “Dead Belles and Bones” and “Bulls on Parade”. With the last notes fading into the air, TN Jet thanked the crowd for coming out, hopped off stage and was done. There was no need for an encore, as there was no way to add to an already stellar performance.
I can’t recommend Tennessee Jet enough. I guarantee you’ll come away impressed not only with his fine musicianship, but also with the fact he can silence a crowd and hold their attention for over an hour.
You can find his upcoming tour dates here: https://www.tennesseejet.com/tour