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Sang like the kang 

A couple of weeks ago found me eating fish tacos in the warm California sun. I was there to witness Lucha Va Voom --- masked Mexican wrestlers and strippers in the gorgeous Mayan Theatre in downtown LA. It was a super sweaty, sexy, salacious, bodacious, bombastic, violent, gravity defying, awe-inspiring, ta-ta tassle-twirling extravaganza (whew). I would have needed six sets of eyes to see it all. And an oxygen tank. It was Mexican wrestling stars like El Santo, The Blue Meanie, Los Minis (midget wrestlers), and a bunch of gorgeous gals in sparkly, skimpy get-ups.

            Then it was off to see Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys play selections off their new CD It's Time at Amoeba Music. You can catch Sandwich and the Boys at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on September 3.

            Got back home last Monday just in time to see Mr. Airplane Man, a raunchy blues duo from Boston who burned up the Bug Jar with a post-war blues smolder that sent shudders spine-ward. The band used my crib as a hanger for a couple of days before jetting off for Canada. They were sweet enough to tighten me up with swag and a baggie containing a greasy one-hitter and some shake, which I passed along to a friend.

            The dame duo Your Mom opened the Airplane show. They exhibited sparkling nuggets of wisdom swimming in a cauldron of dementia and sweaty performance art. I mean, usually the introduction of Reddi-wip and smeared body paint constitutes a "performance art" classification, right? At times they reminded me of Nod. The rest of the time, they scared the hell out of me. The singer-guitarist spilled my coffee. The drummer licked me.

            Call it attention deficit. Call it degeneration. Me and my butter-head crew drove down to the redneck Riviera of Winston Salem, North Carolina, for the third annual Heavy Rebel Weekend: 50-plus bands in the Southern rock, punk rock, rock 'n' roll, and rockabilly styles playing over three days. Performances were peppered with hot rods on display, barbecue, wet T-shirt contests, gallons and gallons of PBR, and mud wrestling.

            Sensational rockabilly madman crooner Dexter Romweber played two sets including one for tips in the parking lot under the blistering Dixie sun. This guy has got to be seen to be believed. He plays junky little Sears Silvertone guitars with what would appear to be only his fists, and sangs like the kang. You can dig Dex at The Bug Jar on August 26.

            Big rock is dead. It still sounds OK, but I'm tellin' ya, it's takin' a permanent dirt nap. No smoke, no excess, no threat. I got to see REO Speedwagon and Journey rock some 7,500 grown-ups at the Blue Cross Arena last Tuesday (I missed Styx, but no biggie, I only really dug "Madame Blue" anyway). The bands were tight and the sound was great. But the audience looked lethargic, like they had given up living the rock 'n' roll life a long time ago. During REO's classic power ballad "Keep On Lovin' You," I counted 11 --- 11 --- lighters held aloft. Remember when there was a sea of butane flame amidst a thick haze of smoke? By my estimate, roughly $16,000 dollars were pumped into the babysitting industry that night. If you've got cable, I'll watch your kids.

            Left the big show for the Bug Jar, where Scotland's punk legends Threat played a frenetic, angry set of real punk rock. It was loud, grimy, and raw, but for some reason, whenever Scots talk, their brogue makes them sound elegant.

            Get-Hip Records darlings The Paybacks motored in from Detroit to play a show with an invisible version of The Grinders for me, über drummer Rob Filardo, and roughly nine others. It was a spectacular show nonetheless. The Paybacks write great, catchy rock 'n' roll and play it good 'n' loud, baby. They're gonna be huge. Huge, I tell you.

            I've seen Syracuse's Thunderosa several times, played with 'em in fact, and I've always dug their Motör-Skynyrd, white-trash hard rock. With Saturday's show, they crossed over into Kong territory, pummeling the audience with speed and might. I was thrilled and amazed.

            Last but not least: rumor has it that Spacetrucker's Tommy Brunette has bought a big 'ol Gretsch. Now if the boy would just get a haircut, we'd let him join the club.


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