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Dave Is Still a Dirty Dog

While he hasn't had a hit or seriously revised his set list since 1985, DAVID LEE ROTH will probably never get a gig at the BOARDWALK. Somehow I think the Seaside Company would never stand for his adult antics. It's a rare occasion to witness a singer manually manipulating a whiskey bottle to give the front row a faux San Fernando Valley Starlet Shower.

It's also a good bet that the following stage banner wouldn't be well received at a family venue: "Girl, you look about 21 years old ... I've been coming up to this part of the state for about that long. Are you here with your mom? Let me get a look at her. Now Mom, tell me something ... did we fuck?" And they say America doesn't love poetry.

As a show, DLR was about as surreal as it got. Though his tight white leather pants didn't allow for full splits a la the PANAMA video, he did try some fancy moves. Unfortunately, the passing of time has taken a bit of spring out of the step.

But other than that (and the bald spot) you'd think it was back in 1982. Roth's guitarist clearly put in some time perfecting eight-string overhand tapping at MIT (the other one--in L.A.), the drummer's kit came with a sweet overhead vocal mic and the bassist's cycle boots were both roadworthy and slightly feminine.

Musically, things were stylistically spot on. Throwing in CHARLIE MINGUS' GOODBYE PORK PIE HAT on two harmonized guitars was an odd moment in time (as was seeing Dave try to rap), but the rest of the set was pretty predictably awesome. It opened with HOT FOR TEACHER, closed with JUMP and hit all the bestsellers in between including JUST A GIGOLO, CALIFORNIA GIRLS and PANAMA. Just like the ad said he would.

Despite Dave suffering a self-inflicted BAMBOO STAFF malfunction in 2003 that required 21 stitches, he still brought out his pimped-out glowing neon rod for a few more swirls during the keyboard solo in JUMP. Maybe he felt he had to distract the crowd from the fact that there was no keyboardist on the stage. Regardless, whatever Dave does, no matter how obscene, childish or just plain crappy he acts onstage, he's still better than SAMMY HAGAR.

Every Dog Has Its Day

Though I am pathologically afraid of any musician who has ever aided ELTON JOHN in any one of his abominations of tonality, any trepidation I had of seeing former Elton sideman JOHN JORGENSON play last week were alleviated by the presence of DAVID GRISMAN on the bill. With a pared down gypsy orchestra behind him, and Grisman to the left, Jorgenson led the band through some DJANGO and some DAWG that atoned for any past musical indiscretions.

They tunes were snappy, the stage patter hilarious and the interplay incredible. Jorgenson is currently playing with the happiest drummer in the entire world, who seems utterly content to brush out rhythms on naught but a snare and a high hat. Grisman more than lived up to his reputation as a true virtuoso. His solo statements were only matched by his keen ear, open eyes and stellar accompaniment chops. It was tempting to take this band up on its offer to trek on up to YOSHI's for the next night's set, but I don't want to get labeled as a DAWGHEAD.

Peter Koht

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From the August 3-10, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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