Excerpts from Electric Degeneration, Degenerate Press' semi-weekly e-zine, free and ad-free. A full episode contains sections for music reviews, upcoming events, blasphemy, classifieds, and anything else we feel like saying. If you'd like to subscribe just contact us.
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Friday I was working at home and got curious about the incessant chop of helicopters overhead and, after some three hours of the racket, turned on the news to find some vet from 'Nam a couple of blocks away was holed up in his house shooting at the cops with shotguns and assault rifles. After a while I got tired of the noise so I headed over to Cabbagetown to sit on the sidewalk at the Carroll Street Café and watched a tractor trailer come around the corner a block away, down on Boulevard, and roll over on it's side like some prize fighter taking a slow mo dive, shearing the telephone poles and scattering pedestrians. Fire trucks, ambulances, barricading the whole street, the works. By the time I get home the Memorial Day mania that had come over the Vietnam Vet had propelled him out the door, "guns blazing" said the news. The SWAT team had responded in kind, and now, according to his sister, "His troubles are over." On the other side of town some mountain lion was found in someone's back yard. "Too dangerous to try to sedate him in a residential neighborhood," said the cops, so now his troubles are over too. Seems like anyone with troubles in this society is ignored until they become a nuisance (or newsworthy), then shot. So next time my moaning about being terminally unemployed annoys you, just ignore me. Whatever you do, don't call the cops!
The left/right rhetoric continues, but I'm putting a moratorium on it for this episode. I'll post yer commentary next episode, along with a stack of CD reviews we've been putting off.
Yeah, it's a long, long one but it was a long, long weekend so settle in and enjoy the full report. Hell, even if you don't know these bands, or like these bands, you might like this report: Memorial day weekend is traditionally the weekend most folks head out of town to get away from it all. Unfortunately, since they all go nobody gets away from anybody. But it makes town feel wonderfully uncrowded. Excellent for relaxation, but not so good for, say, bar owners.
I arrived at the Star Bar around 8 Friday night for the annual Bubbapalooza fest. Slim Chance was on stage cranking out the usual fine country tunes for the slim crowd in the joint. I grabbed the traditional PBR and settled in for the long weekend.
Seven Shot Screamers followed, a group from St. Louis bringing a somewhat punky Crampsy rockabilly sound known to many as "psychobilly." They had a surprising amount of energy for an early act with a thin crowd, but all the local boys in black jeans, black t-shirts, slicked back hair, tattoos and classic cars were snuggled up close to the stage bopping heads.
Local ball busters Flattop Mike and the Mercurys came on next, with furious speed and fun tunes about the living dead, demons and hot rods. The lead singer did a fabulous Hank Hill impersonation, "Dammit, Bobby, I sell cocaine and cocaine accessories" before busting into the King of the Hill theme.
Blue Flame Combo had all the requisite instruments - stand up bass, hollow body guitar, snare drum - for a rockabilly act, but the lead singer looked more like Billy Joe from Green Day, very skate punkish. Somehow they first number reminded me of an 80's pop act, even before they did a Morrisey cover, done in 90's power pop style, as were most of their tunes - very little rockabilly and absolutely no "bubba", but still good stuff and I and a few others enjoyed the change of sound.
Apparently the psychobilly boys weren't as impressed, but I didn't hear any jeers, as I have with some acts that didn't meet people's expectations in previous years.
Blacktop Rockets - goddamn that Chad Proctor. Damn him. Damn him now. How can anyone play so fast in a band that does maybe 3 gigs a year these days and still never, EVER miss a note? (As if that weren't enough he's in like 38 bands at a time, and never misses a note in those acts either.) Add Dave's more-than-competent guitar and lead vocals and you'd swear the band plays gigs three nights a week. So tight and clean you'd swear it was a studio recording.
Unfortunately, the final act for the night, Belmont Playboys, were running late so Blacktop Rockets had to play an extra few songs. Then a few more, then a few more until you were wishing that tight and clean sound was just a little nasty, or at least a little less consistent. They're a rockabilly machine, but there's only so long I can enjoy it in one sitting.
Or standing - I have one, and only one, bone to pick with the Star Bar. Years ago they took out the side area that had tables and replaced it with another bar. That was ok, because there was still a bench or three around for those of us with flat feet that just can't stand for hours on end. But one by one every seat in the house has been removed and now you have to go downstairs and hope there's somewhere to rest your tired dogs, missing the music and wondering how long it'll be before you have to give up and go home. I can miss the music at home and pay less for drinks! So when Blacktop Rockets finally took a break at 1:30 AM and swore Belmont Playboys were on their way I had to call it a night and go home to put my throbbing feet up. I heard the Playboys finally did show and played until 3:30, but my feet couldn't have taken another minute, much less two hours.
Saturday morning I resurrected myself and headed out. I had to get up to help degenerate DP move, so I hit my favorite cheap Mexican joint on the west side, Tapatia. Mine was the only white face in the room, cheap, good food, TV blaring the Technicolor neon explosion that is Univision - where do they get those colors? Where do they get those WOMEN? It's Super Sabado Sensacional, the variety show featuring bits like Guerra de los Sexos where a group of men are pitted against a group of (stunning) women in a latin version of musical chairs, but the chairs are all toilets painted absurd colors. The studio audience waves pink or blue hankies, depending on their gender, the set looks like a cartoonish explosion at a paint factory, the colors of the costumes are so intense you'd swear they glow from the inside. But the restaurant's jukebox cuts in while the staff bring more tortillas to the dark skinned men sitting next to me and suddenly I'm in Mexico myself, hung over from a long, long night of drinking in Cancun back in the early 80's before it became Panama City Beach II. The hot, dusty diesel wind outside only reinforces the vision as I head out.
A shower, shave, and barbecue sandwich later I head back to the Star Bar at 6:30, early but I was thankful I'd done so because Lust, the second act, was already on stage when I arrived. I don't know why this band, who are almost always the opening act and who's music isn't the most serious, thoughtful stuff, puts so much work into their shows but I'm glad they do. For Bubbapalooza the two girls were dressed in marvelous chicken costumes, complete with feathered masks and matching red boots, handing out free KFC between numbers, while the drummer was done up like the Colonel himself, complete with a gray goatee that kept sliding off as he sweated in his white suit. Halfway through their set Barb, the bassist, asked if anyone would fulfill her fantasy and put on this pair of goofy, tacky briefs she'd bought at a thrift store. They looked like the set from the Univision show I'd been watching that morning. But Chuck, man on the scene and former Cinefest director, was up for the task and disappeared to the men's room, returning a few minutes later to do a full burlesque-style striptease right on stage while Lust played on. If naked fat guys dancing while chickens play go-go music and Colonel Sanders beats the drums behind them isn't Bubbapalooza, I don't know what is. They wrapped their set by dropping their instruments as The Chicken Dance came over the speakers, and led everyone in the goofy dance. Unfortunately, I was one of about 9 people there to see it. It's weird to walk into that place with daylight blazing outside, and apparently few were up for the marathon that is the full Bubba.
Gravyboat, from Austin TX, brought their honky tonka truckin' tunes, good stuff with plenty of talent and you should track them down if you like your country old school on the rocks.
While they played a girl appeared in the crowd wearing a cheerleader costume with the logo "Teaser" across her chest, sporting stockings and combat boots under her miniskirt. Cute. Then another in identical garb came out of the ladies room. Then another walked in from outside. Turns out they're the "Teasers" of Jimmy and the Teasers, the act that took over after Gravyboat. Jimmy isn't much to look at, especially by comparison. Looks like your average Joe computer geek, but when he straps on the guitar and unleashes a fury of noise you don't seem to care what he looks like. He obviously loves guitar noise too, as he thrashes around stage and off into the audience and rolling around on the floor and jumping up and back on stage to crash into the amps and back around again, all the while doing something that can only be described as "rocking out." Meanwhile, the girls aren't moved, like some kind of exaggerated Robert Palmer video where Robert has been possessed and the disinterested cadre of women have changed from 80's chic to 90's trendy. But eventually the girls started to warm up and move about, then got positively hot. I don't mean metaphorically either, apparently those polyester costumes don't breathe, despite their few square inches of fabric, and they started peeling them off. Jimmy couldn't resist pouring beer down one of the girl's white t-shirt and soon it's turned into a noise rock wet t-shirt contest, but the girl didn't lose a note and played on. Fun fun fun!
Gargantua followed, bringing titanic metal thunder. If you like metal, you'll love this. If not, you'll probably run screaming from the room. Wowoooowyeah! They threw in plenty of old favorites, getting the growing crowd to chant along and wave their devil horns in the air like they just didn't care.
Billy Joe Winghead brought their theremin from Oklahoma, painted with a rebel flag and a hammer and sickle logo in the middle of that, an interesting combination of symbols, but also an interesting combination of sounds once they got going, including a cool version of Peter Gunn with the theremin taking the lead. But by far their signature tune is Branson On My Mind, a tune about the nightmarish town in Missouri. Halfway through the song the lead singer picked up a big flag with the words "Christ loves you" on it and sporting a large face of Jesus. He waved that about then draped it over his head for the next verse, replacing his face with the giant Jesus face, making for a hilarious and disturbing picture.
Stinky Sonobuoni & the Georgia Mad Daddies is a pickup band put together with a who's who of the Star Bar lineup, doing fun covers of fun songs with plenty of gusto. It was nice to see Billy Ratt and Creepy Kenny on stage together again, but I'd have rather had Truckadelic. It's tough to believe guys who obviously love what they do as much as those two wouldn't want to do it full time, or at least more often, but to each their own.
What happens when seven (or so) clowns stop being polite (or funny) and start getting real? Greasepaint, and it's a sight to see. You could easily relegate this act to novelty status just on the visuals, but the music is so damn good. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - if you weren't scared of clowns before you might be after this show. Fun, in a surreal sort of way, with an up-tempo vaguely R&B based rock sound that's tough to describe. But you really have to see it to believe it.
Drive By Truckers were the final act of the night and put on their usual super set of southern rock and country fried blues, including the tear-jerking The Living Bubba, sung directly to Gregory Dean's momma right there in the front row.
It's amazing how much I can enjoy this festival put together by a man who's work obviously influenced a boatload of bands in this town, yet somehow I just missed him. I started attending shows at the Star Bar about the time Greg passed away and my first Bubba was the first one without him. But as the Truckers sang the song about his life he might as well have been on stage because he sure as hell was in the crowd. Thanks again, Greg, and thanks to all those who keep this thing rolling. I had to skip Sunday due to lack of funds and aching shins, but come next year I'll be back, PBR in hand, tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. I'll have pictures of this event come next episode, along with a few other shows we've seen recently.
Once every four years we have a sports section in Electric Degeneration. If you're a typical American you're thinking "Olympics" but if you lived anywhere else on the entire planet you'd know we're talking World Cup Soccer. It's that time again, kicking off this Friday the 31st! The full schedule is online, including TV times, at
Unfortunately, since it's in Japan and Korea this year all the games are around 7 AM our time. On the ESPN site they list some of the replay times, but don't list Univision's games. On the AJC site they list Univision, ESPN and ABC's games, but don't list the replays. If someone knows of a complete schedule somewhere let me know! If anyone is interested in watching the games (on replay, I ain't getting up at 5 AM for televised anything) contact us. We've got extensive cable TV.
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