Driveway's singer and songwriter, Jason Taylor, is quoted in the band's biography as saying, "Some people are trying to call us alt-country, but that's 'cause they're lazy...we're just a rock band." After reading
Taylor's testament to the band's ultimately "no-frills" qualities, I was determined to enjoy the show without digging too deeply for at-hand
comparisons. So it was with an openly attentive but not overly associative mind that I departed for the Horseshoe Tavern (a little late) to catch Driveway's set, opening for the more obviously alt-country
rockers, Frontier Index.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with a sizeable crowd enjoying one of Driveway's more delightful tunes, haunted by the elemental twanging of Corey Matheson's
pedal steel and tender vocal work. Not alt-country? I thought to myself. But I brushed away the doubts and listened on. Driveway have a big, rock sound too, I soon discovered, as the band shifted gears for their next song, for which Jason Taylor took to the mic. Taylor's vocals definitely have a rougher, more raw edge than Matheson's gentler refrains, and while I cautiously pin Matheson's voice as melding with that alt-country sound, I don't hesitate to say that Taylor brings in a more new-country croon to the band. Walking along the same path as Shania Twain in the sense of genre-straddling, Driveway have a sound that finds itself staking its claim in various realms. The appeal to alternative-rock fans sides with goodies for alt-country and new country fans, and this breaking down of barriers is no more apparent than when the band burst into a solid cover of Mr. Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues".
Understandably, Driveway's very subtle differences in country genres may be slightly confusing in the association game and may obscure one's ability to hear
"just a rock band." With regards to their stage presence, Taylor comes off as a straight-on, keg-lovin' rock 'n' roller, geared up in t-shirt and ball-cap, while Matheson dresses more the part of a Neil Young fan, in jean jacket and beard cultivation, and at times, I was wondering which of the two front men were in the wrong band. This division could be easily remedied, however, by more stage presence on both their parts--especially for the purpose of keeping up with that big, stadium sound. And heck, why not a little more inter-band banter to liven things up a little. Then maybe no one would care what
genre the band fit into--they'd just rock.
Writer: Irene Angelopoulos