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3/11/2001

THE HONKY TONK'S BLUES, CONTINUED
Thursday we went on a investigative reporting mission to the Clermont Lounge. The full report will appear in next month's Prick Magazine in a new column by your editor, so look for that fine publication at degenerate havens near you! But here's the bulleted version for those with short attention spans or who can't get their hands on a Prick.
The Clermont is not going condo. The owners have settled all their differences and the hotel and lounge will remain. Thank you, Satan! The Clermont Lounge now holds the lease on Dottie's on Memorial Drive. As soon as the landlord can get Ronnie out of the place they're moving in. A few changes are planned, but it will remain "Dottie's" in both name and function. Thanks again, Satan! Ronnie will have to be dragged out of there kicking and screaming. His lawyer has successfully delayed the court hearing regarding the liquor license until March 22, so far. If he's a competent lawyer he'll probably get it delayed again and again. But rumor has it Ronnie cannot hold the liquor license himself, as he's a convicted felon. He's a nice enough guy, but it doesn't sound like the odds are good that he can fend off the somewhat-hostile takeover forever. As much as I've loved Dottie's for the last 10 years, it needs competent management to return to it's glory days, and if I was going to pick an organization I wanted behind the establishment it would be the fine folks at the Clermont.
Speaking of, the Clermont has a calendar, featuring 12 ladies of the Lounge, for the year 2001 for sale. Admittedly a couple of months have already passed but it's still a glorious thing to have on your wall. At $10 it's kinda steep but you can get all of them to autograph it while you're there.
Meanwhile, rumor is bands are still showing up for gigs they booked through Pink Torpedo before all the chaos went down. Degenerates DC and BL hit the place Saturday night and reported that things were going as expected - the band was drunk, Ronnie got into a fight, and a joint was being passed around. Same ol' Dottie's

EARPLUGS
After the Clermont, we headed to East Atlanta Village. I don't get down there often, and when I do I usually slip into the Echo Lounge and avoid the rest of the place. But tonight I was headed to the EARL. I was hoping the show, being a work night and all, would be early, but when I arrived at 10 they hadn't even opened the performance room yet. So I sat out front listening to the inane chatter of some of Atlanta's trendiest. Sure, they're cute to look at but, goddamn, has the art of conversation just died or have most humans always been this... pointless? I suspect it's always been this way but I've done a fine job of insulating myself from the public at large with the group of degenerate, creative, intelligent scum I call friends. Thank you all for participating in my life and making the rest of the populace seem like complete morons.
The doors opened to the back of the club about 11 a short time later The Helgas took the stage. They weren't posted in any of the listings I'd seen so I was surprised to see them there. They did a short but enjoyable set of punky rock. It sounds like they took up where 17 Years broke up. But, as degenerate DC pointed out last year, the extra punch of Lara Kiang's vocals really added something to 17 Years. You wouldn't miss it in The Helgas if you hadn't heard it in 17 Years, but having seen them together I was mildly disappointed to hear them apart. Still, it's good stuff, reminiscent of the third wave of punk - not as anarchistic as the late 70's, not as grungy as the early 90's, more like the slightly poppy, talented playing of the late 90's.
Then came the act I'd dragged myself out to see. Chet set up a couple of amps and pedals to his big guitar, Doug set up a minimal drum kit - snare, bass, two cymbals, and a tom tom just to hold his cigarettes and a big #3 sticker on the side. Then The Immortal Lee County Killers started up. Oh, thank you very, very much, Satan! Chet didn't even take a number to warm up, he *started* on fire. Maybe 10 seconds into the first song and he's already possessed, his head whipping side to side, sweat flying, feet stomping - I kept waiting for pea soup to spew out of his mouth and his head to turn a full 360 on his shoulders. Halfway through the first number he rolled off stage, got up to his knees and hobbled into the crowd, still playing. He took a drag off a cig from one of the Raging Slab members in the crowd, hobbled around the floor on his knees and crawled back on stage to rage on. And on. And on. He climbed up on top of his amp and rocked on with his head at the rafters, standing over Doug's drum kit while Doug's arms continued to pummel out the beat. Chet leapt back to the stage floor without slowing down. Eventually he took it down a notch, "We're gonna slow it down for a song." But it was still the same grumbling, groaning guitar, just pulled over to the curb for a slow blues beat. A break for some harmonica in there, and it's back on the highway at 120 mph with a loose wheel. Nobody in the sparse crowd could stand still - heads bobbed, feet stomped, hips thrust all caught up in the energy and joy these guys exude in playing music that would probably terrify the majority of the populace.
Too bad more of them weren't around to experience it. It's tough to get the kids out on a school night, tough to get the adults out on a work night, particularly for a show that doesn't start until sometime after 11 and God only knows when it ends. I got home around 1 and didn't stick around for the headliners. But I gotta say, despite the tired morning at the office on Friday it was more than worth it.
Friday degenerates DC and BH hit Jakes, the new incarnation of the old Shutters out towards the perimeter on the east side, now transformed into a blues club. Mudcat played and the show and venue generated positive reviews so let's hope the venue lasts as long as Mudcat.
Speaking of, Mudcat is headed back to Europe (makes me want to take up an instrument.) And they've got a new CD, "the limited edition 'Live @ Northside Tavern' CD. Just send $10 to: Mudcat PO Box 78761 Atlanta Ga, 30357."
Saturday we braved the wilds of Virginia Highlands and the depths of Darkhorse Tavern. I hit "The Dorkhouse" about once every year or two just to remind myself why I don't go more often. Standing room only on a concrete floor, the stage hidden by four or five columns and a couple of stacks of equipment, a bovine crowd crammed in there waiting on the inevitably mediocre uninteresting music, an overcrowded bar area, lines for the bathroom - the place has a little of everything I don't enjoy about going out, and very rarely anything of what I do like. Saturday was no exception.
We arrived a song or two into the opening act, which we later found out was The Blacklight Posterboys. There had been rumors going around that it was their last show, but I have since gotten email that says they'll play together as often as their diverging schedules will allow. Too bad. They really might have been on the edge of Making It, and I mean that in the worst way. Their music was indistinguishable from 99% of the crap currently being shoved down our throats by the likes of "New Rock", the genre formally known as "Alternative Rock", the genre formally known as "Mainstream Slop 40 CRAP." I don't often yawn at a live music show of any sort. Either it's good and I'm energized, smiling and awake, or it's terrible and I'm irritated, giggling and awake. But the Posterboys dragged several yawns out of me and the rest of the crew we'd dragged along. Halfway through their set they did an uninspired cover of one of the most uninspired Cars tunes, "Let The Good Times Roll," which won the crowd over. Their only moment approaching redemption was their grand finale, Foghat's "Slow Ride." Unfortunately both were covered with as much precision and as little creativity as they could manage. Their original content was inane, and if you're going to be inane you should at least be inane with a vengeance.
(Take The Immortal Lee County Killers, for example - the lyrics are pointless, intentionally, wholly secondary to the *sound.* But the Posterboys were inane without even *trying.* )
My only hope is that this review generates as much hate mail as the last Dorkhouse show I attended, Spider Monkey. Over a year later and the Ear Plugs web site bulletin board still gets slammed by their fans!
Next on the bill, and next on the list of going to Make It Soon, was Color, a friend's band from Austin. Better than the opening act, but still as forgettable as their name. (At least The Blacklight Posterboys put some thought into the name, if not the songs.) It's probably only a matter of time before you hear Color on the radio and these guys will move up from The Dorkhouse to The Roxy in Buckhead.


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