Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Ditch Diggers, Eddy Bear and the Cubs, Cash'd Out at the Beauty Bar, Friday Nov 14

The Beauty Bar often caters to crowd younger than me, but they continue to put on solid shows that I can dig, such as this evening of roots/rockabilly/country and plain ol' rock'n'roll. Of course, it didn't hurt that my band, the Swamp Gospel, opened the show!

Right after the SG, local rockabilly trio the Ditch Diggers came on to an appreciative, full crowd who swang their roots rock ravings. Roman's biting Tele led the way, Ron's stand-up bass grooved (he even got a bass solo!), and Jomar's (ex Mad Daddies/Tommyknockers) snappy backbeat holds everything together.
Eddy Bear and the Cubs have gotten more than their fair share of rantin' here, but they are one of my fave bands in town and the revolving line-up keeps things fresh from show to show. This evening neither lead guitarist Brian or Wade could make it, but steel player Joel was there to fill in the solos and ex-Pigasus drummer (and Beauty Bar employee) Danny sat in with them as their regular drummer got into a car accident that day!

The guys still put in a fine set of their usual tunes - "Little Sister", "Ooh, Las Vegas", "Goin' Down", etc. - but with Joel's steel playing taking front'n'center - and with a lot more grit'n'dirt than his usual tone - the tunes were given a new life. Don't know if they were actually inebriated by the time they played, but they appeared to be drunkenly animated, in a fun, swingin' way. Totally enjoyable set and at the end - apparently because Danny didn't know how to finish the tune - Larry handed Danny his guitar mid-song and took the drum throne to smash out the finale as Joel man-handled his steel guitar. No better honky-tonkin' in town!

Headlining the evening was a Johnny Cash tribute act, San Diego's Cash'd Out, featuring Douglas Benson on acoustic guitar and lead vocals (and he really does sound like Johnny), Kevin Manuel on guitar, Ryan Thomas on stand up and George Bernardo on drums, along with a female vocalist/guitarist who would sit in for June Carter, whose name I did not catch.

According to their FB page, the group has a repertoire of at least 150 of Johnny's tunes and caters their set to the crowd they are playing for. This evening they mainly stuck to the early, more rockabilly numbers, though even the later songs were given a raw and rockin' treatment. The set included songs like "Rock Island Line", "Me and Bobby McGee", "Boy Named Sue" (nice, minimal, r'n'r arrangements for both of these), "I've Been Everywhere", Dylan's "It Ain't Me", several Carter Family songs that their "June" joined them for ("Wildwood Flower", "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", "Worried Man"), along with "Ring of Fire" and, of course, "Jackson". Although it wasn't an overly late show, after working and playing, we were a bit beat and took off before they finished.

Tribute acts can be a bit iffy, but this is done well, with respect but also with some fire and passion. Good night all around!