The Wake Forest Listening Room

Jeffrey Dean Foster & the Arrows w/Nikki Meets the Hibachi

All Ages
Friday, March 29
Doors: 6:45pm Show: 7:30pm
About JDF:

As with the best songs, Jeffrey Dean Foster’s sort of ambush you, don’t they? You latch onto the melody, all of the visceral stuff sets in, you forget whatever it was you were doing, and totally live within that three minutes. It’s when you realize, later, that it might just be a protest tune you’ve been singing along with that you enter the unpacking phase of the relationship. Is this song about wanting to be right where you are, now, or literally anywhere else? If this music often gets lazily lumped in with folk pop then why is it conjuring up images of David Bowie wearing Jeanne D’Arc’s suit of armor? It owes as much to Schroter’s Valley as it does Laurel Canyon.

Foster has the uncanny ability to write a song that kicks in the door, but then, in no time flat, you invite it to move in. It may be a false start or an unexpected guitar stab that initially gets your attention, but it’s the tenacious choruses, and production easter eggs, that reveal themselves with repeat listens that keep you hanging around.

Most of Foster’s musical heroes are skinny guys with style and songs. He meets the description himself, and while he’s never shied away from giving them the occasional sonic nod, he professes that his ultimate goal is to simply “become the kind of singer I can stand.” You might think that’s easy, but ask any artist and they’ll tell you about the struggle. The successful result of that self-imposed directive speaks for itself, though.

Don Dixon once commented that Foster’s Million Star Hotel is longer than Harvest and Meet The Beatles put together, but it couldn’t have been any shorter, could it? 2014’s The Arrow didn’t clock in at much less, so it’s pretty notable that JDF packed it all in such a compact space with his latest release, the I’m Starting to Bleed EP.

Over a rich career, spanning four decades, Jeffrey Dean Foster has slogged it out in the trenches with The Right Profile, The Carneys, and The Pinetops, and been courted by Clive Davis. He’s scored an entire Angus MacLachlan film, racked up accolades from all the right magazines, and was labelmates with Whitney Houston. Now, with not much more than a pile of home recording equipment, and a raging case of cabin fever, he has produced an EP that sits proudly amongst his very best work. — Alex Maiolo

About Nikki Meets the Hibachi:

Nikki Meets the Hibachi (John Gillespie and Elaine Tola) has been a mainstay of the Chapel Hill music community since 1988. Their melodies and tight harmonies have captivated audiences throughout the Southeast.

Perhaps because it lacks the cryptic lure of the moniker’s tale, the story of how Elaine Tola and John Gillespie started playing together is less well-circulated. Again, in short: a shared Comp Lit class at UNC-Chapel Hill and several Indigo Girls shows–including one opened by Gillespie’s fledgling band–led to the pair “playing a lot of shows under a hanging fern in the entryway of the old Carolina Coffeeshop,” Gillespie says.

Skip to content