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I kissed Ruth Brown 

It was with an odd feeling of sorrow that I discovered the Black Dahlia murder had finally been solved. I always found an odd comfort in her death's horrific black-and-white savagery, and in the fact that some things are unsolvable. This doesn't make me a bad person, does it? Maybe she won't haunt me so much anymore.

            I flew to Las Vegas in early April for the four-day Viva Las Vegas Festival; thousands of greasy degenerates, dozens of bands, hundreds of old hot rods, and Ruth Brown, who at age 75 rocked the joint and brought me to tears. I later met her backstage, got tongue-tied, and simply kissed her cheek. I kissed Ruth Brown.

            Two Wednesdays ago it was ex-Stray Cat bass-slapper Lee Rocker at the Montage. He played no-frills rockabilly that was better than the Stray Cats simply because Brian Setzer's stratospheric guitar wasn't there to amaze to the point of exhausting confusion. Rocker's baritone voice was rich and awesome.

            Went to Steel Music Hall for the first time last week to see Space Trucker. These guys write great songs and perform 'em tight. Rock with just the right amount of that good-ol' country 2/4 beat. Steel is an unassuming rock club with great sound. Half the place is used to supply modern-pop bootie-shaker crap --- the real devil's music --- to the cute, buff, and vacuous. But they're, like, fun to look at and stuff.

            The tour manager for DJ QRT (the drummer from Lords Of Acid) lured me to his May 3 show with one word: burlesque. Of course, I'm envisioning all the classic trappings. Instead, I was treated to weird images on a projector screen, a dude playing records --- bor-ring --- and three anorexic tarts in cheesy Frederick's of Hollywood get-ups and heels they couldn't handle.

            Which leads me to the casual comfort exhibited by The White Hots. They played last week with such subtle sophistication, romantic optimism, and bluesy soul while making it look so goddamn easy, the Montage Grille's patrons' mouths were agape (when not chewing). These cats got class. Even more stuff to come... And did I mention that I kissed Ruth Brown?

--- Frank De Blase

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