Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Bloody Villains - Motor City Cafe 4-28-12

The Bloody Villains were recommended to me (thanks Heximer!) a while back and when I found out that they were playing first at one of my favorite r'n'r venues, I made a point in getting out for the rock! This high energy Las Vegas quartet looks like they could be a rockabilly or Social Distortion cover band, but they list their influences as "The Hangmen, Hellacopters, The Wildhearts, The Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders, Turbonegro, New York Dolls, The Saints", which seems pretty damn accurate to me! They've just recorded a 3 song demo, which they were giving out for free at the show, and their sound is high-energy punk'n'roll with melodies and sing-along choruses - you know - real songs! Damn if they don't remind me of LA's B-Movie Rats or the Hellbenders - a couple of the best in the 90's.

Singer/lead guitarist Verdusco looks like a 50's styled Penn Jillette but has a terrific voice, flying fingers and great taste in guitars (he played a lefty Mostrite through an Orange amp). Ably backed by solid players Nano on rhythm guitar, Chris Cano on bass and backing vocals and drummer Scott Smith, the band powered through their set despite a few technical difficulties and had the crowd bouncing and flailing about by the end.

After years of being disappointed in so many bands that I had seen in Vegas, I'm glad that there seems to be a number of hot combos appearing in the ranks. If you like real rock'n'roll played fast and furious, definitely see these cats. You won't be sorry!

Luther Allison - The Motown Years 1972-1976

I was never overly familiar with Luther, but the quality of his work here makes me wonder why I hadn't followed him before! These early 70's tracks mix Hendrix-y guitar work (actually, listening again, I think it's more Jeff Beck-y than Hendrix-y, but maybe they were listening to him!) with funk, rock, and plenty of blues with style and passion. Luther can perfect Elmore James slide on one tune (covering "Dust My Broom"), BB King styles in another, Magic Sam soul-blues in "Easy Baby", have a conversation with his guitar here & there and plenty more. With an ace band backing him, this is powerful stuff!

Luther arrived in Chicago in the mid-50's as a teenager and played in numerous bands (his first was actually called the Rolling Stones - years before the Brits used the name!) before recording his debut solo album for Delmark in 1969. While playing for a blues festival he was discovered by a Motown A&R man who, despite their lack of blues artists, picked us Allison and recorded 3 stellar albums that these tunes were pulled from.

There is a little Sly & The Family Stone thrown in here, some Issac Hayes there, but he really shines on his blues outings, in my mind. He's not afraid to have some edge, distortion, and sustain to his guitar sound - more "rock" if you will - but also works with other tones. Fine stuff all around.

Absolutely terrific from start to finish. Maybe not for purists who don't like their artists to mix their styles, but this just makes me wish that I had discovered him long ago!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Tinglerz & Acton Town - the Beauty Bar, Las Vegas April 27, 2012

Yes, it's odd for me to get out on a Friday night, but it's always unusual for two bands that I dig to be playing together as the first two groups of the night, so I thought I'd take advantage of this!

It's spring and so the Beauty Bar has opened its back patio again for gigs and has reconfigured it which apparently has made the sound better - certainly a big improvement from the sound indoors which is consistently muddy. Unfortunately, although the show was supposed to start at 10:00, the patio was not even opened until after 11:00 and Acton Town didn't start until probably 11:30 or so. I know that I have railed against this before, but I can't understand the Vegas clubs' policy of super late shows - no one likes this - at least not the bands or the audience - but still it keeps happening. I got home at almost 2:00 in the morning and only saw two acts - most anywhere else you have seen the entire show and been there for last call if you got home that late! Anyway...

Acton Town is a 3 piece mod/garage/punk hybrid made of up energetic and stylish youngsters barely old enough to get into the club! But each of the gents are solid players and singers - guitarist Cromm and drummer Ron share lead vocals duties and it is particularly effective when bassist Anthony joins in for group harmonies. I hear bits of early new wave/punk (Joy Division & Cure) in some of the tunes and guitar tones (Cromm was borrowing his dad's - John Fallon, ex-of the 80's band the Steppes - Rickenbacher for this gig) but there is also lots of Jam influences as well as noisy garage tones. Good mixture of stuff with plenty of edge & excitement & flailing about. Cool tunes and a fun show! They play all the time, so no excuse not to check 'em out!

The Tinglerz are one of my faves in town - crazily high-energy punk'n'roll with wild stage antics and real songs! Another 3 piece led by guitarist Kei, who is not afraid to play with various sounds and effects to bring variety to the tunes, along with fantastic bassist Eric, who bounces around like a pinball while ripping out cool bass licks, and drummer-about-town Turbo, who is in big demand since he kicks ass! These cats aren't afraid to throw their influences into a blender and see what happens, either, and while they love punk rock, there are plenty of garage sounds coming through and lots of Motor City r'n'r.

While these two combos have different sounds, they are definitely doing what they can to keep r'n'r alive in Las Vegas! Both are highly recommended! Nice guys, too! Thanks Beauty Bar!

(I left my camera at home so no pics! Next time!)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Delta Blues - Ted Gioia

The full title of this book is Delta Blues - The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music. This mouthful is a fairly accurate description of the writing.

Gioia is a trained jazz musician and initially examined blues music with a clinical analysis - dissecting the time signatures, chord structures, turnarounds and thinking that he therefore understood the music. As he gained wisdom with age he realized the folly of this kind of thinking and comprehended that blues is all about the feeling and not something that can be discovered from learned examination.

Here he gives an overview of the most famous sons of the Delta - and most of them are men, although I am sure that there were some women working in these parts, as well. Of course, nothing is too detailed, as it is only a 400 page book, but he talks of the origins of the music, the early proponents and the singers who became true stars, such as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. He looks into the men who rediscovered some of the old masters (Son House, Skip James, Bukka White, etc) during the 50's & 60's blues revivals, which I never knew much about or how they went about finding them. And, as a scholarly player, some of his descriptions, while they may be a bit dry at times (though he throws in an occasional poetic phrase when the mood strikes him), can be revealing and enlightening to another musician.

I was somewhat amused by his apparent personal revelation that many talented musicians were never discovered or recorded, or recorded far too little - some who may well have surpassed even the legends like Robert Johnson or Charlie Patton. By being part of small musical scenes in several cities, I am all too well aware that some of the most creative people in the world are the ones who are passed up for being too talented, too original, or just too damn good. To this day I think it is amazing when genius is actually recognized!

As I say, there is only so much that can be said about any of the giants in this book in the limited space allotted and most everyone here deserves (and many have) books dedicated to them, but this is a good outline with a different and fascinating perspective.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Phoenix Punk'n'Roll

Check out my pal (and ex-Tommyknockers) Al Penzone's musical project over at the Daly's Dogpile - his tribute to Phonix stalwart, Kevin Daly. Lots of cool rock'n'rollers getting involved. Go!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Psyatics & Beau & the Outfit @ The Bunkhouse, Las Vegas, Friday April 13

The Psyatics are a swingin', brand-spankin' new LV garage combo made up of Rob Bell on bass & voice, Jimmy Krah on drums (both formerly of the Yeller Bellies, a rockabilly group, though Rob played mandolin!) and guitar wiz Jack Ball. This was their debut gig and while they had a few timing issues to work out and they were way too loud for this venue, their songs and musicianship shown through. Absolutely kick-ass from start to finish and definitely destined to become a Las Vegas legend! Check out their Facebook page for song samples and upcoming gigs.

Beau & the Outfit followed with a unique mix of swampy southern rock, country and blues not unlike a hipper, more underground Black Crowes or Allman Brothers or something of the ilk. More fine musicianship and excellent vocals and harmonies and real song-writing. Another new(ish) outfit in the neighborhood that should be seen! Again, more information via their Facebook page.

RIP Dick Clark

Dick Clark Dead at 82
Another major part of my youth gone. So sad...