Reviewer: The Oregonian Newspaper 03/19/2004
Local Songwriter JC Tubbs has a fine, countryfied new album called "Songs in the Key of Tractor" that features players such as Carlton Jackson and Paul Brainard. Tubbs' easygoing baritone is a perfect match for his songs, including his funny and heartfelt tribute to the late, great Dave Carter, "I Want to Be Like Dave." Well, writing good songs and singing 'em like you mean it is definitely a good start.
John Foyston - Oregonian (Mar 19, 2004)
Tumbling along with his country roots intact
With the aptly named debut release of "Tumbleweed Troubadour," Portland singer JC Tubbs has proved the adage "you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy."
The fiftysomething Tubbs clings to his dusty, down-home roots like a tattered old hat. This Lubbock, Texas, native has brought his own brand of roots music to the Northwest, brandishing what he calls "Mesquite Flavored Americana." It's garnered him praise and awards from the Portland Songwriters Association.
Tubbs gathered considerable local talent for this album, with drummer Carlton Jackson, bassist Phil Baker and saxophonist Trevor Rasmussen. The powerful pedal steel and tasty guitar work of Americana figurehead Paul Brainard helps round out the Old West effect.
But Tubbs himself seems the real-deal relic here, bringing to life visions of ghostly banjo players, old trains, booze-soaked roadhouses, double-crossing friends along desert roads and, of course, tumbleweeds. He accomplishes this lyrically as well as with an interesting affinity for impressionism in a voice that's somewhere between the boom of the late Waylon Jennings and the raspy quiver of Leonard Cohen.
The soft "Still in Love With You" brings the listener dead-center into a drunken state of post-breakup self-pity. The lilting "Tumbleweeds, Teardrops & You" has much the same effect but in a waltz with a gleeful sense of schmaltz that would've been right at home at the Grand Ole Opry of the '60s.
On "The Very Last Train," Tubbs' acoustic guitar cleverly imitates a train ambling down the tracks. His voice takes on a worn, crusty quality, singing mournfully about an array of archetypes who once hopped train cars. On other selections, Tubbs brings anger to the genre; at other times, he toys with humor or slightly exotic rhythms, moseying away from the Old West for a bit.
Mostly, Tubbs is an American archetype himself, one of the last bastions of the old country music genre that ruled the radio waves before it got watered down by so-called "new country" like a bucket brigade on a barn fire.
Andre Hagestedt - Oregonian Newspaper (Mar 15, 2002)