Southeastern-Coast Surf Rock: Southern Culture on the Skids at Riverpoints

By Tim Roberts

A pair of Shure microphones mounted on a tall stand pointed in a V toward the stage. About ten feet below on the smooth brick ground: a two-channel digital audio tape deck in a black case. Three young men surrounded it. I asked if the show was being recorded for a future release. Nope, I was told. It was for personal use.

"This band's so cool, they're worth the three-and-a-half hour trip to record them," said Jonathan Cutler, who, with his friends Rob Williams and a large-bearded man who called himself Jimbo, had driven from Carbondale, Illinois to record the show. The recording was, Jonathan assured me, sanctioned by the band via their publicist.

What Jonathan, Rob, and Jimbo took back to Carbondale with them was as potent as a spoonful of cinnamon oil.

S.C.O.T.S. head hillbilly Rick Miller

The trio called Southern Culture on the Skids (SCOTS) headlined the second free Rockin' at Riverpoints concert on May 30th. The show contained three lead-in acts: The Galoots, Blue Moon Boys (with their ribald rockabilly), and Supafuzz . Each got the growing crowd ready for SCOTS. And despite the cool, damp air and constant threat of rain all evening, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina-native SCOTS treated the large, multi-aged, and multiracial crowd to a celebration of things suth'un: fried chicken, truck-stop dates, cinder-block nightclubs, Little Debbies, and day-old banana pudding.

A mutant blend of heavy odors – diesel from the barges sliding through the Ohio River, frying oil from the row of food vendors at the show, and Drakkar Noir cologne from young stud-hopefuls – provided a fitting dirt-track atmosphere for SCOTS. All that was missing was the squeal of tires and roar of worn engines. Too bad the concert wasn't closer to I-64.

SCOTS consists of the lanky guitarist Rick Miller, attractively-boufed bassist Mary Huff, and drummer David Hartman, in a mashed homburg and Mr. Peabody horn-rimmed glasses. For those who haven't heard them, the SCOTS sound is reminiscent of early Credence Clearwater Revival: twangy, guitar-powered grit.

WLKY-TV reporter Joe Orlando introduced them on stage as "toe-suckin' geek rock," a vague description that may capture their sleazy sub-flavor, but not the sound itself. Perhaps one of these would best fit: southeastern coast surf rock; Tony Joe White meets Dick Dale; the wise-ass, out-past-curfew offspring of "Wipe Out" and "Polk Salad Annie."

The SCOTS show contained almost all selections from their recent release Dirt Track Date: "Voodoo Cadillac," "Greenback Fly," and "Soul City," from which evolved a noisy segue into "White Trash." The crowd yelled its approval.

Some added treats included "Daddy Was a Preacher and Momma Was a Good Ol' Girl," "Shotgun," which elicited lots of piercing howls from the audience, and "Nitty Gritty," sung by bassist Huff, who added her girlie squeals on the high notes. SCOTS showed off two new songs from a forthcoming release: "My Little Biscuit Eater" and "Day-Old Banana Pudding." It's gotta be a day old, explained guitarist Miller, because it "takes a whole day for the vanilla wafers to soak up all that pudding."

David Anstrom of Supafuzz

A young woman named Haley, from San Diego, visiting some friends who had joined me at the concert, confessed to have never eaten banana pudding. "It's best," I said, "when the vanilla wafers are a little stale. That way, they're softer and soak up more of the pudding. And you don't have to wait a whole day for it."

I couldn't tell how appetizing that was to her.

SCOTS held their best for last: "Camel Walk," the driving, erotic anthem to romance involving Captains Wafers and Little Debbie oatmeal pies.

The crowd demanded an encore. SCOTS came back and gave us three more songs: "40 Miles to Vegas," "Put Your Shoes Back On," about a seduction ruined by foot odor, and a surreal bit of comic theater called "Viva el Santos," a tribute to a has-been wrestler reliving his glory.

A heavy rain started just as the band left the stage. Rick Miller stayed behind for a few extra minutes to gladly shake hands with a few from the audience who had crowded up to it.

The band was fun. The crowed loved them. The concert was free. All of us went home winners from the SCOTS dirt track that night.

And I'm wondering how long a pan of banana pudding (with stale vanilla wafers) would survive on its way to San Diego.