Guitar impresario Deke Dickerson positively peeled the paint off the Abilene walls with his blistering guitar work Friday night. Dickerson is one of the slickest, fastest guitar players alive, and his skill is rivaled only by his genuine, aww-shucks charm. Dickerson's drummer took a crack at playing guitar while two audience members held him by the ankles and swung him upside down, and Dickerson — king of the rockabilly mash-up — mashed up The Stray Cats with Satchmo.
Circus stunts aside, this was a night in Rochester rock 'n' roll history, as 11-year-old Mickey Smay, who sprang from the loins of Jason Smay (ex-Hi-Risers, ex-Los Straitjackets, current drummer for J.D. McPherson), and heir to the throne, got up and rocked with the band to Link Wray's "Rawhide." The boy pounded the skins admirably, and I don't just mean he kept time. I mean he coolly bopped with snaps and rolls and fills as the grown-ups in the crowd went bananas.
I picked up Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion and headed north in the blue whale to Sandra's Saloon, a keen example of an alternate universe: authentic, unadulterated country music and drunken anthropology. The Mike Snow Band was on stage honkin' and tonkin' with Colorblind's Jimmy Mac on drums when we rolled up on the joint. Snow has a classic, way-low baritone that will fire you up one minute, and leave you crying in your beer the next. Klondike-cool proprietress Sandra was gracious and warm, and initiated Tin Man and Cowardly Lion with some clear liquid in a mason jar that rendered Tin Man incapable of saying anything other than "goddammit" and had Cowardly Lion howling like Tarzan. I'm not sure exactly how or when we left.
Back at Abilene Saturday night, Austin, Texas, blues troubadour Guy Forsythe and the whole audience got a big surprise as his former Asylum Street Spankers band mate Wammo made the drive from Pittsburgh to sit in and rock the joint. Between Wammo's hellacious honks on the harp and Forsythe's buttery slide, it was a rocking good night. As I drove home with the windows down, I could still hear Cowardly Lion's jungle howl in the distance.