Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
"Old Gin Road" isn't the only song you need to hear by the Georgia rock and roll band Ponderosa, but it's the most important one. It's the song that will tell you so much of what you need to know about this foursome that you'll feel as if you've known them forever. It starts off with a guitar riff that makes you start singing about how you've got a little change in your pocket, going jinga-linga-ling and then it transitions into something altogether more scuffed up. It's like lead singer Kalen Nash, guitarist Kris Sampson, bassist Jonathan Hall and organist John Dance decided to take us on a tour of Hazzard County with Luke and Bo Duke, tailed by a bunch of federal agents, as the boys were trying to keep them away from Uncle Jesse's moonshinin' business in the woods. There's a heavy strut and then the mood shifts once again to something from a John Cougar Mellancamp record, back when the Indianan still went by the Cougar. We're taken out onto those backroads, back there where we'd do our pheasant hunting in peace, where we could drive around drinking cold ones in broad daylight and where there's no harm in stealing a kiss or two from the pretty girls who came with us. They give us that sensation of rock and roll the way it's portrayed in fairy tales, only with most of its morals intact. It's music done by those who want to be outlaws, but settle for becoming Friday and Saturday night philosophers, out there to break a few hearts and to drink a bunch of suds - as many as are on the house the night of the gig. They remind you that there are some folks who consider all the beer you can drink as an acceptable payment for a full night's work. They remind us how much we can learn about ourselves and others on the weekends. They make us think about the summers that we spent baling hay on 100-degree days and about how we took beer for payment then too. It never tasted better. Nash sings about how they try to "say we'll never fall in love," and even when he says such a thing, we hear in his voice that the emphasis is on the word "try" and it's not taking. Ponderosa strives for doing rock and roll and making rock and roll that doesn't have to apologize for anything. There are no sorries, just broken bottles and hearts in wringers.