During the last half of the 2000s, Nashville's Black Diamond Heavies built a dedicated fan base with some hard touring, pumping out a bracing mix of blues, punk and soul informed by the last half-century or so of American music. The group hasn't released a new disc since 2009's Alive as Fuck, but singer/keyboardist John Wesley Myers, a.k.a. Rev. James Leg, emerged this year with a solo album, Solitary Pleasure. He'll bring songs from it to the High Noon Saloon on Dec. 19.
Black Diamond Heavies was initially a trio, but the guitarist bowed out before the band's debut album, and since then Leg and drummer Van Campbell have whipped up an iconoclastic incarnation of the loud-punk-blues-duo concept. Today, it's hard to imagine a guitar adding much to the work of Myers' own two hands on whatever keys happen to be handy, often including a Fender Rhodes.
Fans got a sneak preview of solo Leg this spring at an intimate Mother Fool's Coffeehouse gig. That performance "was a little more low-key than what folks will see at the High Noon Saloon show," he writes via email. Other than "a different bad-ass on drums," the Dec. 19 show won't be too different from a Black Diamond Heavies show. "The material and show is in the same vein."
While Solitary Pleasure doesn't stray far from Leg's characteristic take on blues and soul, it adds an even stronger gospel edge, particularly on a cover of Link Wray's "Fire and Brimstone." And the frenzy is occasionally turned down a notch. "Georgia" sounds like a lost 1970s Southern rock hit, and "Whatever It Takes" even finds Leg singing in an uncharacteristically sweet vocal style. A couple of songs have an off-kilter cabaret feel, à la Tom Waits, and there's even a quote of the Three Stooges theme for good measure.
For those wondering about the nom de rock, Myers/Leg provides the answer. "It was given to me by a wild old street character in Tennessee," he says. "He said I got a 'jimmy leg' when I play."