Jim Waive & The Young Divorcees
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Jim Waive & The Young Divorcees

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"Young Divorcees Won't Get Fooled Again"

Halfway through his band's two-plus-hour set on Saturday night, Jim Waive stepped to the edge of Bel Rio’s short stage, which ends quite abruptly before the drinkers and dancers, and took a request from Sons of Bill singer James Wilson. Waive leaned over, raised his head, smiled, and stepped back towards the microphone.

“This here’s a request for something sad and beautiful,� Waive said. “I hope it’s both.�

Jim Waive (pictured) and the Young Divorcees split the difference between old country and new riffs on Saturday at Bel Rio.

It felt a bit early in the evening for the Young Divorcees’, “Fool�—Waive’s stab at a “Tennessee Waltz� of his own, about splitting assets and taking a lover’s Jesus down from a shelf, “because I don’t love you no more.� Among the tunes that the Divorcees keep in their holsters, however, it’s the group’s undisputed classic, a tune that Waive himself calls the band’s “anthem�—the song that both lays out the Young Divorcees’ mission and makes sure that the band is fulfilling it.

There are only so many ways a band can reinterpret old country songs as different old country songs without making the lyrics of Hank Williams or Merle Haggard sound like a corral of clichés; you might say that “Fool� runs the same risk. But each time Waive pops the heel of his hand against the body of his guitar to start the waltz, the song unfolds with jukebox precision and lossless emotion—the same shift from indignation to resignation in the lyrics, the final lover’s plea of Charlie Bell’s pedal steel, the cracked leather in Waive’s voice.

So, every Young Divorcees gig is an exercise in interpretation: Play an old song in a new way that makes it sound old. On “Big River�—the group’s best cover song, in this writer’s opinion—Waive turned Johnny Cash’s country blues number into a bluegrass rave by drawing out the song’s chorus into a repeated “cry, cry, cry!� Special attention was paid to Hank Williams: The quartet threw a little extra cayenne on “Jambalaya,� and the waltz “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry� got a longer stride, anchored by bassist Jen Fleisher, who swooned in the arms of her bull fiddle.

Lead guitarist Charlie Bell deserves praise for his role in the translation process. Dressed for each gig in the same slim suit, Bell resembles Woody Harrelson’s cowboy hat-wearing assassin in No Country For Old Men and plays as sharp as he dresses—no missed buttons or notes on his watch. Bell typically writes ricochet-bullet riffs that he can recreate live, but on Saturday he roamed a bit further, challenging himself to hit the same targets from a few new angles.

The best of Waive’s songs get the same treatment when the band is in peak shape and perfect harmony, a state that’s hard to maintain over the course of more than two dozen songs. Throughout the night, Waive’s voice sounded a bit husky, although it was more distracting to guess at the cause (A cold? Bad microphone? Dirty ears?), and didn’t visibly disturb the packed Bel Rio crowd. And despite Nick Reeb’s better solos on songs like “Lonesome,� original fiddler Anna Matijasic’s borderless riffs and hooks on Waive compositions like “Trouble’s You� are always missed.

But all the proper components of a great Divorcees gig were in place for the bulk of the gig, including a handful of dancers that moved to remember and to forget in equal number, some recalling the rhythms of Patsy Cline, others firing their legs like pistons to graceless, muscular instinct during “Old Dominion Girl,� already on its way to being a local standard. Sad and beautiful and, at its best, both. - By Brendand Fitzgerald of the C-ville

"Jim Waive's Sweet Dream Baby"

Here's a little recipe for a Saturday night done right: I’m thinking a 1/2 rack of ribs, a couple pints of Starr Hill brew, and a shot of Tennessee’s finest. Mix in a heavy dose of music done “in that ol’ country way� and I’m pretty sure you’re going to be good to go. It should be a straight up-no chaser kind of night as Jim Waive & the Young Divorcees head westbound out of Charlottesville for a little honky-tonkin’ out at Uncle Charlie’s in Crozet this Saturday, December 6. 9:30pm. $5!

Also, you might want to go ahead and mark your calendars now for the 5th Annual Smoky Mountain Christmas Show featuring Jim Waive & the Young Divorcees, The (All New) Acorn Sisters, and Barling & Collins at the Gravity Lounge on Wednesday, December 23rd. It kicks off at 9pm on the eve of Christmas Eve with a $10 cover. (If you bring a donation of canned goods for the Thomas Jefferson Area Food Bank, you get a $3 discount!). It should be one hell of a ho-ho-ho hoedown! Don’t miss it.

Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees have released two records to-date: Their self-titled debut from 2007 and its follow-up Strike a Match from February of this year. . For your listening pleasure here’s a gem from the band’s first record to help get you in the mood for tomorrow night. - C-ville Muse

"The Full Moon Ball"

Of all the things I heard at last Friday night’s Full Moon Ball at the Fry’s Spring Beach Club Ballroom, I think this quote from Sarah White, delivered to the audience during her 45 minute set, pretty much sums the evening up:

“You guys definitely picked the right place to be tonight!“

Easily one of the coolest concert events that I’ve attended this year, the Full Moon Ball had everything you’d want from a night of music and then some. With performances from Justin Jones and the Driving Rain, Sarah White and Ted Pitney, and Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees, a cash bar that kept the Starr Hill brew flowing all night long, and a venue that had many in attendance buzzing about the possibilities of things to come, not only was the right place to be on a damp and foggy November night in Charlottesville, this was also a place I could see myself going back to time and time again.

The Music:
...Capping off the evening was Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees and their performance brought together the perfect look, feel, and sound to a venue that seemed tailored-made for what they do best, playing the straight-forward, “eat your heart out Hank Williams� country. Bolstered by the return of Anna Matijasic on the fiddle, and featuring the usual suspects of Charlie Bell on pedal steel and dobro and Jen Fleisher on the bull fiddle (who is one of the finest upright bass players this side of Bryn Bright in my humble opinion), Jim Waive delivered a sound to the Beach Club Ballroom that seemed to transport the whole evening back to a time when the giants of Music City ruled the country airwaves. I guess there’s just something about hardcore country and hardwood floors that seems to go hand in hand. (And just for the record, don’t even think about calling their sound “alt� anything, because in the words of Hank III,� if this ain’t country you can kiss my ass�).

Mixing in tasty covers of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy�, Johnny’s Cash’s “Big River�, and Hank’s “Settin’ the Woods on Fire� with his own original classics from his first two albums, the only thing missing from this smoking Jim Waive set was a shot of Jack (my honky-tonk drink of choice).

When it was all said and done this night far exceeded what I had expected to see and my expectations were set pretty high from the start. If you’re looking for complaints you’ll have to look elsewhere. Which leads me to this:

When Are We Going to Do It Again?

Well in the immediate future we can tell you that Sons of Bill get the next crack at the Beach Club Ballroom when they perform there on December 23. Beyond that we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds for the Fry’s Spring Beach Club Ballroom. I’ve heard talk that there may be more shows in the works for 2009 and from the reactions that I overheard while walking through the crowd, that would be a really good thing.

A Parting Thought:

There’s been a question rolling around this town that has grown much louder in the past few months and lately it seems that this question has been asked with a greater frequency. “Is the Charlottesville music scene dying?� I’ve even asked that question myself a time or two. Maybe it is if we’re only focusing on what once was or what’s missing. And while one or two shows a month at Fry’s Spring isn’t going to ever fully answer that question, it creates the possibilites of what can happen if you use what’s around you, if you search for what’s been overlooked by others, and if you celebrate what you’ve got as opposed to lamenting over what’s been lost. Maybe it’s finding a place that only has one show a month. Maybe it’s turning an old garage into The Garage. Maybe it’s a living room concert series in your house.

One guy had a vision for this night, for this Full Moon Ball at the Fry’s Spring Beach Club Ballroom. And while he didn’t do it alone, his vision became one of the best live music nights I’ve experienced in quite some time. Thanks Ted. Let me know if you need a hand next time. - Shaun Harvey on Cville Muse

"Pick Of The Stack"

Artist: Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees
Album: Self-Titled
Jim Waive has character seeping from every pore, and his voice and delivery are inviting. Once inside his spell, you find the tales he weaves to be anything but a disappointment. His stories are full of color and description. Even though the landscapes he paints are at times gloomy and depressing, they still manage to connect beautifully withthe music. The Young Divorcees back Waive with a combination of upright bass, fiddle/violin, and/or dobro, pedal steel or bottleneck guitar. The music never gets too fancy. Every song sits at or near the same tempo and intensity. The subtleties in the music make the difference. - The Hook, Damini Harrison

"The Next Waive: New honky-tonk CD hits the shelves."

It is the middle of fall and the new CDs are popping out like camellia blossoms. Jim Waive and The Young Divorcees just released their self-titled debut CD, his second, and it is a fantastic showcase of 10 great original tunes, and excellent musicianship. Waive played around town solo for a number of years, and two years ago added the very simpatico fiddler Anna Matijasic, and dobro and steel guitar wizard Charlie Bell. The lineup solidified lasy year when upright bassist Jen Fleisher joined the band. Waive says that the CD is "something that i am really, really proud of. It has been a long time coming." - The C-ville, Spencer Lathrop

"Real Country: Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees"

Country music has gone through inumerable iterations in the last century, from the earliest days of old-time to today’s folk rock Americana. Charlottesville’s Jim Waive, however, is no trendsurfer, rooting his music in the ballads and work songs of the mid-20th century. | words & photos by Stephen Barling
You’ll find no laser lights, technicolored duds or headset mics on this refreshing revival. As revealed in “I Sure Like,” from his eponymous 2001 solo debut, I don't like today's country music radio/ it ain't country even though they say it’s so.

Since forming in early 2005, Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees have released two CDs, garnering a warm following and even landing opening slots for Randy Travis and Kenny Rogers. With a decidedly Grand Ol’ Opry approach to country showmanship, the cowboy-booted four-piece delivers smooth ballads, upbeat stompers and dark-as-death dirges with a sincerity that's almost unnerving. It’s a return to a time when acoustic guitars still jangled to the slow thump of doghouse basses, the sweet whine of high lonesome fiddles and the heart-wrenching purr of pedal steel guitars.

Being country music, there are, of course, all the usual thematic elements: Hearts are broken. True love is found. Daddy lives and dies in a mine. Meaning is found in simpler things and irony is the salve of aching existence. All the while, Jim’s smooth-as-vintage-leather vocals soothe the listener with bittersweet warmth. A Young Divorcees show generally oscillates between originals and soulful tributes to the masters —Buck Owens, George Jones, Willie Nelson (via Patsy Cline)—along with some unusual choices converted to the idiom, such as Bob Dylan or the Beatles. The players are masterful, with Jen Fleisher on bass, Anna Matijasic on fiddle, and Charlie Bell on slide and steel guitars and backing vocals.

For those who prefer the hard-worn music of working America to the flash and glam of Nashville narcissism, the Young Divorcees cannot be matched. - Urge Magazine, March 2009

"JIM WAIVE: A Divorcement of Purpose"

Divorcement. Divorce. Jim Waive and the New Divorcees sing about it on a universal and human scale (along with a few other subjects of interest), overlapping generations and whole eras without a blink of an eye. With one foot planted in the present and the other in classic 50s country & western, they toss political correctness out the window with the drained beer can (a real country boy knows better than to waste beer, even if it is green) and drag the past, kicking and screaming, into the moment. Ghosts of Hank Williams, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Lefty Frizzell and a handful of other country and pop greats hover over every song these guys play, until one can smell the cigarette smoke and the stale whiskey and beer and the very fabric of “the life.” Life in the fifties wasn't all coal mines and logging and steel mills and oil wells. It was life and love and family and, bottom line, survival. That is what most modern country performers miss. Most wouldn't know how to survive without a contract and an agent. To them, handling heartbreak is talking to a shrink.

Of course, if you take a listen to some of his songs, you might think he needed a shrink. Case in point: Why I Hunt from his Strike a Match album. It isn't politically incorrect. It is off the map. In a weird Hank Williams twist, Waive handles infidelity with a gun. “That's why I thank Heaven for God's creatures,” he wails, “They kept me out of jail, You see, I mighta gone and shot my loved one, but instead I go huntin' for white tail.” (That's deer, for you city folk). It makes me smile (and I apologize for it) because it encapsulates so much of the culture in which I grew up. No, every pickup did not have a gun rack - well, not until I was in high school, anyways.

Every track on the album brings back a bit of my childhood, in fact. Fool could be a lost Lefty Frizzell classic, Since You Been Gone has early Ferlin Husky touches, Crooked Man mixes mountain and country & western. The album is chock full of a bygone era not brought successfully to the present outside of the likes of, say, Steve Young.

Of course, one should not be surprised. Waive is a monster songwriter and a smart man. He brings the best of Charlottesville onto the stage with him: Charlie Bell, one of the most respected and sought after session dobro and pedal steel players around; Jen Fleisher, a knockout ball of energy who tosses the bull fiddle around like a violin in spite of her slight frame; Anna Matijasic, who plays fiddle and violin and who knows the difference. It is a daunting crew--- a masterful group. Waive would gain credibility from having them in the audience, not just on the stage.

I have a friend who always says you can tell a good man by the music he plays or listens to. If that is true, Jim Waive is a good man because what he plays and how he plays it (not to mention who he plays it with) is a stride above. Do yourself a favor and check these guys out. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Jim Waive & the New Divorcees!

-Frank O. Gutch Jr.

- Rock and Reprise

"Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees play 2 local shows"

Old-school country is alive and well in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Central Virginia — resurrected through the singing and strumming of Charlottesville-based songwriter Jim Waive. Waive’s smoky voice tells vivid tales of love, loss and heartbreak in front of his authentically dusty trio the Young Divorcees — featuring standout slide player Charlie Bell (Hackensaw Boys), along with fiddler Anna Matijasic and upright bassist Jen Fleisher.

Songs can range from tear-jerking ballads to rowdy honky-tonk hoe-downs. The group heads to Western North Carolina for two shows this weekend: Friday night at French Broad Brewing’s tasting room in Asheville and Saturday night at the Town Pump in Black Mountain.

Waive took a minute to explain what he’s bringing to the area.

Puttin’ country back in country: “This band is old-school country, and there’s not too much deviation from that. People are starting to turn back to more authentic things. It gets to a point where people want things that have truth and are real. I can’t tell you how many times people say they hate country music but like us.”

Songwriting: “The necessity of trying to get songs out of me is something I use medicinally. The songs help me get through things and keep me from going crazy. I try to take my personal experience and make it universal. The human experience doesn’t really change. People feel the same things and are hurt by the same things. It’s only the stuff around us that changes. I write these songs for myself and just hope other people like them. That’s almost kind of selfish, but I think that’s the reason they sound like the old stuff.”

Old faves: “My sisters turned me on to ‘70s country when I was young. I was listening to things like Willie Nelson and Family. It always struck a chord with me, and as I got older, I started buying my own records and got into some of the earlier stuff. I enjoy the lack of frills. (Old country) seems like people just singing about something that happened to them, and then sharing it. It seems honest to me.”

Listen up or get down: “It depends on the place. I like it when people are quiet and listen and appreciate the songwriting. But it also feels good when people are hooting and hollering and dancing around. I appreciate both. Some nights our shows will be rowdy as hell, and some nights things will be slow with a listening crowd. People can use the music any way they want. I have fun either way.”

Life of a working musician: “We’d like to tour more, but we all have day jobs. Regionally is what we can do realistically right now. We’re trying to build a base that way.” - Jedd Ferris, Asheville-Citizen Times, 1/12/07


Full-length LP, "Strike A Match"
Full-length LP, self-titled.
Jim Waive solo EP.



--by Critter Fuqua of OCMS

Country music is about family.
Country music is about love, loss and heartbreak.
Country music is about biblically proportioned lyrics rooted in the search for self.
Or the search for cold beer and a dancing partner.

With Jim Waive at the helm, these criteria are met with complete satisfaction as he steers The Young Divorcees towards country music perfection.

Waive combines his no-pick, percussive style on guitar with some of the most compelling lyrics in honky tonk. His smoky voice delivers songs laden with force, fervor and heart. You can catch a glimpse of his Tidewater roots in the fire-and-brimstone melodies, and you can feel his love overflow for his Divorcees: Charlie Bell, Jen Fleisher and Anna Matijasic.

When Bell is not on pedal steel he’s on bottleneck guitar and dobro, effortlessly switching amongst the fleet as needed. Born to a hard working Orange County, Virginia family, Bell has played music most of his life, including a long stint as a member of The Hackensaw Boys. An old-school-son-of-the-south, his ghostly notes waft from the pedal steel with a country confidence. His harmonies are traditionalhis solos walk through the wall of rhythm put up by Waive and Fleisher.

Classically trained on piano, the Floridian Fleisher plays the bullfiddle with a passion. She is the Superball. Her grooves are indeed infectious. She improvises through Bell’s country gold, then supports Matijasic’s refined and eclectic violin.

A native Virginian and classically trained as well, Matijasic plays “country violin.” She accents Bell’s lines with gypsy melodies burnished by a cowgirl’s hand. Reminiscent of the fiddle/violin playing on Bob Dylan’s “Desire,” she is a velvet scimitar, slicing apart your conviction that country music fiddlers must have a “Fire on the Mountain” complex.

This band is a true country band that supports one another like a family should. Their beauty is subtle and very real. They are good musicians, all four. They carry on the American tradition of honky tonkin’, beer drinkin’, heart breakin’ music with a down-home authenticity.

They are a country band to be seen and enjoyed, to be heard and adored.