One Saturday evening in July 2016 I was playing the opening set at the Harcourt Arms in Jericho. I introduced a song of mine:
‘This is a song about an ex-girlfriend of mine who wanted to marry a doctor. It’s called ‘She Wanted To Marry A Doctor’
“Are you a Doctor?” asked a voice from the audience.
“No”, I replied.
The voice from the audience belonged to a Chicago-based (at the time) singer/songwriter called Logan Metz. He was in Oxford with his musical compañero Lincoln Mendell and they would be headlining at the Harcourt that evening, billed as The Wind And Rain. Logan was enthusiastic, talkative and wore a permanent smile on his face. Later on it would transpire that he (Logan) was an Anglophile, an Oxfordophile to be precise.
Lincoln and Logan’s set was superb. They played acoustic guitars, a mandolin and took turns hammering away at the battered, old piano that lives in a corner of the Harcourt. They played a selection of their own compositions, well-known cover versions – and a few songs from Logan’s then soon-to-be-released (October 2016) debut album: ‘The Last Remaining Payphone in LA’. The title track from the aforementioned album distils the best bits of Johnny Cash, Paul Simon and Billy Joel whilst adding dashes of English Music Hall, Variety Theatre and Vaudeville. Their love for England and the city of Oxford shone through, not least on the track ‘Jericho’.
“I want to be an Oxford chap, where everywhere I go I know I’ll find some place to hang my hat – I want to die an Englishman with a sonnet on my tongue and an umbrella in my hand”
“And the writing on the walls in Jericho say man you’ve got to be some kind of fool to go from the good King’s Arms”
“I want to know that British pride perhaps I’d even have me own dear Watson by my side” (cue Lincoln pointing at Logan in a moment of pure theatrical brilliance)
The Last Remaining Payphone in LA is a brilliant album. According to Sahar at blogcritics.org:
This album is a beautifully, composed emotion-laden experience well worth a listen. The tracks could be loosely categorised in four groups: The jazz tracks contain all the typical jazz trimmings one would expect. Other numbers are folk and country-flavoured, including the title track. A couple of songs are built only on vocals, piano, and violins. Metz also wrote a couple of slow and languorous tracks.
Cody Conard at The Big Takeover continues:
The production of the album is fantastic—lush strings and a horn section warmly embrace Metz’s enthusiastic piano playing and clever lyrics on songs like “Jericho” and the smokey jazz of “Almost (All Mine).” Even with the record’s large sound, Metz is the true star of the show; the dulcet tones of his voice seemingly torn out of a different bygone era. A stunning debut, The Last Remaining Payphone in L.A. is out October 21st, and has all of the possibilities within it to make Logan Metz one of America’s next great troubadours.
Lincoln and Logan returned to Oxford in July 2017. My wife and I happened to bump into them as we were heading out to dinner at The Cherwell Boathouse. They had been punting on the river. Oxford chaps to the core. The duo performed another headline set at The Harcourt Arms, bringing the house down as they had done in 2016. Their version of The Beatles’ ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ captured the euphoria of original.
Logan Metz is currently on tour as a multi-instrumentalist for Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. An inspirational post on his personal Facebook page below outlined his reason for declining a Fullbright grant to teach at a university in Madrid in favour of a life on the road with a hard-working band: “Life is short and God damn it, you’ve got to do what you love”.
Amen to that, brother.
Lincoln has recently formed a new band called Nature Docs. Listen to their superb track ‘Ships’ below: