JD Eicher and the Goodnights go well with a plate of pasta

VTR - J. D. Eicher

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Television commercials often include interesting new music from talented but unknown artists.

The song snippets can lend hipness to the ad. They also can boost the career of the up-and-coming act.

It’s rare that I actually recognize the music, although sometimes I do.

But what happened over the weekend was a first.

Not only did I recognize the song, but I knew it was by a Mahoning Valley artist.

A new Olive Garden commercial came on while I was watching the tube.

Visions of pasta flickered across the screen, but I immediately latched on to the music. It was the opening strains of “Aaron,” a song by JD Eicher and the Goodnights.

Eicher is a Canfield native. He’s also a Westminster College graduate, as are most members of his band.

The use of “Aaron” in the TV ad became reality after Eicher’s record label, and the licensing arm of its distributor, submitted the song to the Olive Garden’s ad agency.

The restaurant chain likes to score its commercials with segments of upbeat songs characterized by nonverbal vocals. It most recently used “Me and My Friends” by Tim Myers and El May, which was stuck in my head for half a year before I Googled it (see if this rings a bell: “Whoa-oh-oh, oh ah oh; Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh, Wha ah oh — clapbeat — Wha ah oh — clapbeat”).

The new commercial with “Aaron” has been running only a little more than a week, but Eicher says some people have already discovered the band because of it.

And I think he is also getting a kick out of shocked friends, who were already familiar with the song, calling him and saying “hey I just heard your song on an Olive Garden commercial!”

JD Eicher and the Goodnights will headline a show at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Magic Tree, 7463 South Ave., Boardman. It’s an all-ages “ugly sweater” holiday show, so wear one. Admission is $5.

Opening act is Kent’s The Speedbumps, who are also quite good and who make great use of a cello.


You can’t make old friends but, fortunately, Kenny Rogers has them by the thousand.

A full house of old friends showed up at Packard Music Hall on Tuesday night to see the legendary singer.

“You Can’t Make Old Friends” is the title of Rogers’ new album, but at the Packard concert, the singer stuck with the old favorites. The silver-haired country crooner ran through abbreviated versions of “You Decorated My Life,” “She Believes In Me,” “Ruby,” “Coward of the County,” “Daytime Friends” and others. He also mixed in complete versions of “Through the Years,” “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Islands in the Stream” and “Lady.”

Rogers has a disarming presence that easily reaches the back row. He joked and wisecracked with audience members, flicking 10-dollar bills at one gent in the front row who appeared to have been dragged there by his wife. It was the singer’s humorous way of making him a fan.

Rogers’ voice has always been more charm than chops, and while it has been weakened with age, the nuances that tell the story are still loud and clear.

The audience seemed to recall Rogers’ heyday from the ’60s to the ’80s, but just to jog their memory, a screen showed clips of him from those days.

The second half of the concert was devoted to Christmas music. Country singer Linda Davis was featured, accompanied by five local children who were handpicked for the job.

Rogers has been riding a streak of late-career recognition of late. He was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame in October, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the CMA Awards in November.

Last week, he and Dolly Parton received their third joint Grammy nomination for their duet “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” the title track to the new album.

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