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The devil is on his way 

The devil just ain't evil anymore. In fact, evil ain't what it used to be. Satan has been co-opted by Disney and being bad has just been plain played out. As soon as artists figured bad was a good career move, good music by bad people became a thing of the past... until now.

Texan Scott Biram and Tennessean Joe Buck are on the road together --- the road to perdition. Sure, it's a thrill for the average Joe to get down and wallow in a little rural colloquialism full of depravity, excess, and fun. But it takes a real hardcore fan to realize there ain't no free --- there is a price to pay.

The devil is on his way, as Buck reminded us repeatedly last Thursday at the Bug Jar. Illuminated only by a red light bulb at his feet, stomping a kick drum, and playing a battered Gibson, Buck was visceral in the extreme. The guts in his angry hillbilly music were as glaringly apparent as the throbbing veins in his head.

Buck always struck me as country, a true son of the South. But what some folks consider merely a persona, I've discovered is actually the man's true nature. He is what he is. Sure he's a helluva guitar player, but Buck is a bad man who isn't just window dressing. He truly knows the meaning of hell bound.

Show-opener Biram was equally troubled but offered a slightly more humorous solution in his one-man-band refrain with lots of grunts, snorts, and moans. He's everything Hasil Adkins used to be.

See these two next time through and get reacquainted with your evil side --- not your Hot Topic bad self either, but the type of contrarian badness that helps balance out all the namby-pamby wholesomeness in pop culture... like, for instance, Norah Jones.

Miss Jones has a beautiful, beautiful voice. Her music is velvety and narcotic and intoxicatingly romantic. She is a sexy lullaby personified. But what happens when you hear a lullaby? You get sleepy.

What was exciting to me at her FLPAC show last Tuesday was Jones' obvious penchant for country music. Yeah, I know she covered Hank's "Cold, Cold Heart" on her first album, but hearing Jones and her band (really good, by the way) bust out more than a few cool and lonesome mid-tempo country-tinged tunes was a treat for the nearly 7,000 people with sweaters draped over their shoulders.

I saw The Charms at Little Steven's Garage Festival three weeks ago in NYC and definitely wanted to see more when they played the Bug Jar last week. I got there late (man, that Law & Order is addictive) --- in time to hear their last tune. And judging by that fragment, they rocked before making way for The Veins.

The Veins recorded this particular show for an upcoming live release. With guitarist Jet's new military-issue 'do and other guitarist Dan Pickett's baldpate, here's a band who plays heavy longhaired rock better than the longhairs. The band seems unlikely and unassuming but the music draws blood.

As part of our ongoing harmonica tips series, here's The White Hots' Tom Hanney's Harmonica Tip number one: "you can't play with a nice touch when the veins are popping out of your neck, even if it looks cool in photos. You can play a lot better if you blow and draw nice and easy."

This year's Bug Jar Fest at Highland Bowl prevailed despite a steady rain that seemed only to let up between acts. I rolled up in time to see The UV Rays in a full-blown pizza fight with the audience. They sounded great despite hovering towards the rear of the stage in an effort to keep dry and keep sauce off their nice clothes.

Sounding like a perfect marriage between The Grinders and Dead Blue Hand, The Blastoffs played loud, fast, and drunk.

The Bloody Hollies sounded tight as ever with pop punk hooks and a bass player that spent most of the time in the air.

Detroit's 25 Suaves followed with a really, really, really loud set of edgy, metallic music. The drummer was playing her head off by the looks of it but was completely steamrolled by the guitar's sheer volume. In an effort to thank The Bug Jar staff for the invite and those who braved the weather --- and admonish those who didn't --- the band's frontman used the beloved f-word so much it lost all meaning or importance.

We Ragazzi was quirky and poppy and unique since all their songs sounded like bridges of songs. No verses, no choruses, but more of a melodic feeling around in the dark.

Before their headline set, Toronto's country-noir sensations The Sadies strolled around the park like specters straight out of a Jim Thompson novel. They delivered a remarkable, mostly instrumental set full of twang and redemption. They are simply amazing in their playing and their writing. And I'm pretty sure the devil likes 'em too.

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