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‘Lipstick Sunset’ 

The Real McKenzies seemed a little more focused on drinking than playing their show a few weeks back at The Club at Water Street. The B.C. band was positively wild and sounded like a party threatening to boil over. A mohawked, kilted cat bounding around the stage while playing the bagpipes is really something to see.

          The Quitters and Bee Eater got the evening started. The Quitters sounded raw and a little louder than usual. I love every song they do. And it's Meghan Taylor's lithe sensuality and vocal range that makes Bee Eater what they are. Their songs are deft and dynamic but rather derivative. Without Taylor's bollocks they'd just be another good band.

          The blood on the tracks became the blood on the Milestones stage for the umpteenth annual Bob Dylan birthday show two Saturdays ago. Initially started by the late, great Colorblind Chuck Cuminale, the show centered around Dylan's birthday and featured the best folk, acoustic, and roots-oriented performers around town. And for the first time on stage I donned a half-inch chunk o' copper pipe à la Paulie Rocco and slid through Bob's ode to the tres chic chapeaux, "Brand New Leopard Print Pill Box Hat." The kids went wild.

          So it was back west for sun, fun, and girls, girls, girls. Spent a week shutterbuggin' some cuties and rollin' with transplanted Rochesterian and rock 'n' roll tour-managing guru Ron "Monkey Man" Mesh. He is the dude. The man lives on the beach drinking White Russians surrounded by mounds of gorgeousity and he still calls Rochester home. That's hardcore.

          I headed north to Paso Robles to the largest hot rod show in the world (over 850 cars). We ate crappy Mexican chow and rubbed elbows with Billy Gibbons, who was parading around with a chick on his arm who looked like she'd just walked off the set of an old ZZ Top video. She had legs and apparently knew how to use them.

          Then I caught Lil' Luis And Los WIld Teens as they broke out with a classic '50s r&b-rock 'n' roll blast at The Doll Hut in Anaheim.

          The Doll Hut: a return to the scene of many, many crimes. Where guitars were strummed and love was sung about, fallen into, forsaken, and cherished. Lots of beer was consumed, too.

          And during this whole crime spree the tape deck in my band van's dash never stopped. There was the Replacements for late-night drives, Motörhead to amplify road rage, The Ramones for when you'd finally arrive, Tom Waits when things got weird, the Police to get all weepy and nostalgic over high school with, and more often than not, rock 'n' roll singing-songwriting genius John Hiatt.

          I've always been able to identify with rock lyrics whether or not I agree with their stance. But Hiatt's I can physically feel. They're true. They sting.

          It was on one of these road trips to oblivion that Hiatt really hit me. I had just cheated on the girl I had cheated on the girl I had cheated on my girlfriend with and was heading west. The sun was setting. Hiatt's "Lipstick Sunset" from his Bring The Family album came on. Its bittersweet story of lost love made my blood run cold. And though it intensified the guilt I was supposed to feel, it oddly made me feel so good. I couldn't stop laughing.

          Hiatt played that song among a ton of others at his recent sold-out Montage show. It was all Hiatt, his guitar, and a roomful of sardines in the presence of greatness. His beautifully poignant narrative ran throughout his songs and spilled over into his between-song banter. Hiatt's guitar playing was fantastic as he mixed up deft finger-style with rock riffs and chops. Every time his thumb struck the bass notes they drove home his irony and wit while leaving sonic, circular ripples in my coffee.

          Me and Ron and about 5,000 kids in pink piled into Frontier Field and witnessed the sonic massacre that was the PXY Summer Jam this past Tuesday. Once I got cable I swore I'd never watch network TV again. And by upholding this solemn vow I've avoided a lot of crap.

          So imagine my surprise --- "what the %&#@!" --- when I saw Asian simpleton William Hung jumping up and down with a bunch of cheerleaders and wailing like a tone-deaf cat in a blender. This was just another chapter in what I refer to as the rape of the American ear.

          NSYNC boy-toy JC Chasez wasn't any better: all kinds of dancing around to music from an invisible band. Switchfoot thankfully saved the day with instruments, melody, and an obvious love for rock music --- not just its subsequent trappings.

          Off to jazz fest...


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