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Hank You

You know, sooner or later those slacker kids who grew up on AC/DC and Black Flag are gonna have to start truck drivin', and when they do, they're going to need something to listen to besides Art Bell (of course, I'm part of The Conspiracy for even saying that--it's that easy!). I suggest the Mother Truckers, the band of former alt-rockers who saw the light of real country--Lord Jesus, kumbayah!--and brought their astounding mix of the two to Moe's Alley Sunday. This is hyperkinetic honky-tonk for folks who realize Hank Williams wasn't just crying in his beer--their shit gets to the pitch-black heart of Hank's legacy, like on "My Darkest Side": "I took her home and she started to cry, when I showed her my darkest side." Yikes, man, that's the kind of stuff that gets you where you live. In the best tradition of deceptively upbeat music, however, the music absolutely swings, whether it's swaying from side to side with that tear-stained lap-steel sound, or like a sledgehammer on this-close-to-mosh numbers like "Save My Soul." The latter had both the country and the rock types joining forces on the dance floor as the band went completely nuts. This kind of thing has an effect on an audience that builds over time, and sure enough, by "Holding You Tightly As The World Burns Brightly," someone was throwing their panties on the stage. What, now they're Tom Jones? Catch these guys next time they're in town, and who knows, maybe they'll even play their cover of AC/DC's "TNT" again.

Steve Palopoli

Rock Show Goes Gossip

The greatest thing about seeing a show at an intimate venue like Henfling's is that you can get close enough to the performer to identify the brand of shampoo they use, if you're sensitive to that sort of thing. But sometimes you'll even run into the performer's old college girlfriends, who just might tell you little anecdotes in passing, like how Kris Delmhorst didn't do any performing back when she was in college. Not that it changed my life to know it, but when someone tells you something like that as you're marveling at how beautiful that last song was, breathing out a little sigh as chills still wash over your skin, well, it tends to stick with you. Because a voice like that--scrappy yet sultry, even a bit rootsy--doesn't just spring up from nowhere. Because songwriting talent like that doesn't come in the mailbox with a winning check from Ed McMahon, but is cultivated at birth, or even before (by exposing the fetus to woman-sized doses of heartache in utero). She pulls off that whole unaffected "vessel" thing, where songs seem to come through her rather than from her, making it easier to linger a while and just watch it all happen.

Rock Show Goes To Mush

Yes, we wuhved Kwisten, and yes, we wuhved Mark Ehreli too! Because he played a lively blues-heavy opening set of original folksongs and awh, it was awful purty! But shucks, the real fireworks started with Delmhorst's set, which Ehreli backed up with lead guitars and vocals, and holy hillbilly do they sound good together. Like two songbirds serenading a single white lily, they sang. Like lovers bouncing on a bed, leaping up over the grave and straight to the pearly gates, they howled. Like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, they got rootsy and lapsed into rockin' dischord when it suited their tortured drop-D-tuned banjo mood. Girlfriend better hog-tie that boy to her tour bus, because they's a match made in heaven who ought to sing together forever, and live happily ever after. The End.

Mike Connor

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From the April 30-May 7, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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