Among the lesser known dependable pleasures of the Philadelphia music scene are the free Friday night happy hour shows with John Train, the rootsy sextet fronted by superb story telling singer-songwriter Jon Houlon, a prolific sort who is also the lead singer from the more garage-rock oriented band The Donuts.
Neither John Train not The Donuts are breaking up, but Houlon, who's a child welfare lawyer for Philadelphia's Department of Human Service, is taking a planned one year break after 20 years of gigging and releasing six albums with each of his bands.
To give both outfits the proper send off, Houlon is playing five straight nights at Fergie's, beginning tonight, with John Train kicking things off and the band's playing on alternate nights through Sunday. Billed as No 2 Unalike, the concept is inspired by Lubbock, Texas songsmith Butch Hancock's original 1990 No 2 Alike series, in which he played six straight nights in Austin, Texas and played 140 of his own tunes without repeating a single song.
Hancock fan Houlon will put his own spin on the idea, playing 75 of his own songs over the course of the five nights, with each composition paired with a song by one of his favorite songwriters that influenced it in some way. Special guests are expected throughout the week, including Kenn Kweder, Ali Wadsworth, Rosie McNamara of the Low Road and Rodney Anonymous of the Dead Milkmen. The long list of Houlon influencers whose songs will be covered include Merle Haggard, Brian Wilson, Alex Chilton, Tom T. Hall and Bob Dylan.
The plan John Train / Donuts plan is take the year off, and reunite in January 2017. These last shows the bands are playing until then are free. "This is not goodbye," Houlon says. "Just a pause in the proceedings."
Fergie's info here. John Train's "A Wig And A Wonder" is below.