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‘Follow this, bitches’ 

I dunno. Maybe rock 'n' roll lost its punch with the introduction of grammar. As soon as songwriters got clever, or cleaned up their English, or started straying outside the jungle, the primal urge was lost.

So the next time you sit down to bang out the next rockin' ode to whatever, here's a good test to see if your rock doesn't out-sophisticate itself. Just ask yourself, could Tonto, Tarzan, Frankenstein, or Charlie Chan sing this song? If so, you've got a winnah. The Quitters' Dave Snyder agrees, while also suggesting that there aren't enough slow songs for lovers anymore.

Snyder and the rest of The Quitters (including new bassist Steve Kincaid) blasted through a set of Quitters pop nuggets four weeks ago. Some I hadn't heard in years, like "Born In Love" and "Weekend In New England."

The new all-skirt ensemble The Scarlets warmed up with tight, metal-leaning rock. Miss Christina Ginger held down the bottom end and looked like she was born to be on stage.

However, the overall energy on stage didn't really match the sound as the gals came off more casual, tough, and cool. I'm sure a couple more shows and we'll get a pogo or two out of them. But who am I to judge? The White Devils opened up this beautiful Saturday night catastrophe at the Bug Jar, and we play sitting down.

The next Wednesday the Montage Grille was packed to the ceiling with bluesers as Kansas City's Kelley Hunt boogied and woogied on the piano and belted the blues. It seems her show was preceded by some pre-show airplay and hype. See what a little radio help will do? I've been to shows by artists as good and you could hear crickets while tripping over tumbleweeds.

Hunt's show was solid but has come and gone. Will she get any airplay now? Unlikely. She's too good and --- God forbid --- something new.

A mile or so away the same night, San Diego's Eric Sardinas torched the Dinosaur with his Steve Vai, dive-bomber, Delta blues. This man is a guitar monster, doing things to a burnt-up dobro that'd make Hendrix blush. His trio's music is so raw and sexually charged you can feel the heat coming off the stage. He's a good lookin' boy as well, with his flowing black hair, tattooed olive skin, and sensuous swagger. There wasn't a dry seat in the house.

New theory: The Village People aren't gay. They danced so poorly while karaoke-ing there's just no way. I still think the Indian is kinda cool, though. What was left of this wedding-reception staple opened up for Cher, who must look like the Crypt Keeper up close since no one with a camera was allowed within 200 yards of her.

The old gal has still got the pipes and plenty of glitzy Vegas-style pomp to parade around in, though. She opened the show with U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." She defended all the divas in waiting and heirs to her throne between songs, but still warned them, "Follow this, bitches."

They smile pretty in California. I've got a pile of black-and-whites to prove it. I flew out to spend Thanksgiving with ex-Rochesterians Steve Edwards and Ron Mesh (also Switchfoot's tour manager). Mesh makes a mean turkey. The secret: let it catch on fire and burn out of control for a minute or so.

I was lucky enough to catch two classic LA punk bands on their home turf. Though frontman Mike Ness is the only original member left, Social Distortion sounded loud, greasy, and great. They sampled stuff off the new record and heaped on a healthy helping of classics that are virtually anthems now. I've always been drawn to the band's singleness of purpose and simplicity and was surprised when Ness whipped out some pretty slick guitar breaks.

The next night: the Hollywood House Of Blues with Mesh and the Red Wings' Thurm Costello and his wife to see X and The Blasters. Again there were only two original members in this Blaster line-up, but after all this time the music has truly transcended the musicians, who played it rough and mean.

X mixes such a perfect blend of chaos, classic rock 'n' roll, and wry poetic insight. Every song struck like a hit as Exene tantrumed in front of the mike like a girl half her age, and guitarist Billy Zoom zoomed his Duo Jet with an ever-present creepy smile spread across his mug.

X and Social Distortion still embody the outlaw spirit they helped to create. How appropriate that both bands' intro music was Bobby Fuller's "I Fought The Law."

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