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Thursday was degenerate JH's birthday, in addition to Labor Day everywhere else on the earth but the US, so we celebrated by hitting a place that's soon to lay off all it's workers, Tortilla's. Damn, I'm gonna miss that place. We made a quick stopover across the street at the Clermont Lounge for cheap drinks and the other treats that only the Clermont can deliver before heading down to East Atlanta and the Echo Lounge. Those Legendary Shack Shakers were already on stage and cranked up when we got there, kicking serious ass. I've heard "cowpunk" used to describe this tiny little niche, but the Shack Shakers don't have a lot of "cow", and the "punk" is more in attitude, presentation and energy than instrumental style or skill. It's got a lot of blues bedrock, including the lead singer, J.D. Wilkes, doing an incredible job on harmonica. But there's rootsy country, bluegrass and rockabilly laid over that, and all of it clearly in the land of the South. A couple of degenerates said they'd seen them before when they leaned more toward the traditional rockabilly, but I'm glad they've swerved away from that flavor. J.D. prowls and howls on stage with punk ferocity, swinging from spitting and self-mutilation to clowning about in manic energy to stopping between songs to lament the passing of hillbilly culture from "the salt of the earth to the scum of the earth," something myself and other degenerates have bemoaned often. It's part Jerry Lee Lewis, part Jerry Lewis, and part Johnny Rotten. Fantastic show and I'm hoping their CD's have the energy of the live performance. For more on Those Legendary Shack Shakers, hit their web site at

Next up, an act known for their live performances, Southern Culture on the Skids. Somehow I managed to miss SCOTS' previous trips to town for all these years. I was always out of town, out of money, out of my mind or something. It's clear that I missed a hell of a show, but I personally thought the Shack Shakers did a better job on Thursday. SCOTS performed a "best of" set of crowd pleasers that it seemed like they were sort of tired of performing. They even brought out the banana pudding and passed it around, beginning the expected banana pudding fight in the crowd closest to the stage, a bit that, combined with songs that sometimes sound more like shtick than serious songwriting, has unfortunately put them in the novelty act pigeonhole. Which is too bad, really, because Rick Miller is a hell of a guitarist, something I don't think comes through even on their CD's. And their music pulls in parts of country, rockabilly, surf, and countless Southern and pop culture references into something not entirely new, but definitely unique. I'm sorry I missed their shows a few years back when that scene peaked, full of inspiration and power that fueled acts like this. With the scene deflated, I'm sure the acts that live in and off it can't help but feel like a little of the oxygen has been sucked out of the room. For more on Southern Culture on the Skids see their web site at Pictures of this show, and other events, are in the Ear Plugs gallery:

In other news, Masquerade's ad in the Loaf this week notes the return
of the full lineup of X, coming June 6. It says advance tix are $20,
but Ticketbastard has no mention of the show. I'll swing by the club
this week and get the scoop for all you aging punks out there.

Forget the sci-fi channel, just read the business pages:,1640,49104,00.html?cnn=yes

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