Friday, February 28, 2014

Fuzz Solo, Eddie Bear and the Cubs, Whiskey Breath and Hopeless Jack and the Handsome Devil

I admit, this is another show that I played, which helped me to get out on a Thursday night. But this was an amazing evening and those that did not make it really missed something special!

Fuzz Solow has come back from his self-imposed hiatus and continues to blast out the fuzz all on his solo. His mixes Howlin' Wolf ("Built For Comfort"), Jimi Hendrix ("Manic Depression") and the White Stripes (with his heavy, staccato chording, open spaces and minimalist drumming - since he is playing guitar at the same time!) with his own, unique perspective and songs ("I'm a Sinner" is a stand-out) and infuses everything with great playing and dynamics. Always a blast - here's hoping he'll become a regular on the scene again!

I was pretty knocked out by this new version of Eddie Bear and the Cubs the last time I saw them here at the Dive Bar and, if anything, they were even better and tighter this night! I'm happy to report that the set seemed pretty much the same - opening with "Rumble", doing Johnny Cash/George Jones/Dwight Yokam/etc. - and the line-up didn't change either - which can happen since these cats are all busy in other projects (see previous review). Larry and Erik both have terrific voices that are quite different but work well together, Brian is a fantastic lead player (dig his Tele and his tone) and Davis and drummer Pete really drive the rhythm section. Love their dramatic finale that mixes "Going Down", "Voodoo Chile" and some of their own country mojo to make something really special. Definitely a band to see!

Whiskey Breath's rhythm section couldn't make it tonight so lead singer/guitarist Brandon and lead guitarist Lahm pulled out their acoustic guitars for their set. Brandon has a terrifically powerful voice and Lahm provides some nice harmonies as they went through songs like "Folsom Prison Blues", "Jim Beam Is My Home Boy", Dave Allen Coe's lewd "Shallow Throat", "She Broke My Heart So I Busted Her Jaw" (apparently no relation to Spooky Tooth or anyone who has had a similar idea) before closing with "Time to Get a Gun". Really dig their original. punky-country sounds!

The headliner for the night was the Portland, Orgeon duo Hopeless Jack and the Handsome Devil. These cats were supposed to come through town last fall, but had some issues with the tour but I'm damn glad they worked things out and got here this time! These two gents were a couple of the nicest people I've met recently and once they hit the stage, they were one of the best, rockin'-est new acts I've seen in ages! Jack plays mostly slide on a couple of open-tuned customized Ibanez guitars - with a superb, full, fat sound, aided by using a bass as well as guitar amp - and Peter (the "handsome devil") wails and flails at his vintage kit with crazed abandon and wild, Keith Moon-ish power - that somehow really works in context! Jack's voice is a bluesy whiskey growl (though he doesn't drink) and they smashed and crashed through a set of mostly original, riff-driven blues numbers, mixed with a couple covers, like a slide-fueled "Sweet Little Angel". Both cats were highly entertainingly visual, as well - dancin' and stompin' and poundin' and bashin' in the throes of their own personal, rock'n'roll St. Vitus dance! For the finale, Jack took the drum stool (he started as a "one man band" playing drums and guitar simultaneously, kinda like opener Fuzz Solow) while Pete grabbed a couple toms to augment the mania before crawlin' over the kit while Jack did his best to finish the number. A truly superior mix of songs, musical ability and showmanship made for a crazily fun set. Absolutely see these two any chance you can!

The Dive Bar continues to bring excellent shows to Vegas, making it one of the top places for bands in town. I know there's lots that I can't get to due to touring groups coming through mid-week, but take a chance when ya can and hang at one of the most easy-going bars in town and see some top quality local and touring acts.