Reverend Horton Heat @ PHT's Saloon

By David Lilly

Revelry darted through The Saloon as Reverend Horton Heat, the man and the trio, strode through the ample crowd. When they ambled onto the stage and attended to their instruments, the cheers, shouts and whistles only increased in volume and number. Once this band starts the show, it takes about as long to get a drink and light a smoke as it does to realize that you're witnessing a genuinely hard-working, professional musical unit. From that point on, you're settled in and digging the show.

In Rockabilly High School, the Rev's bass player, Jimbo Wallace, would be an exceptionally strong candidate for `most gregarious.' His demeanor is as if he personally knows everyone in the room and has just happened to jump onstage to play amazingly fast (and damn good) upright bass. Drummer Scott Curilla is apparently content to let Wallace and guitarist/vocalist Jim `the Rev' Heath share the spotlight while keeping time for them. Speaking of Heath, a top-notch guitarist and crowd pleaser (on his own terms), he and his bandmates appeared to take things in stride through the technical problems that occurred through most of the gig. He even joked at one point that it was just a sound check and they'd do the show later.

Try this trick at home at your own risk. Early on, the Rev and Wallace stood next to each other, arms somehow intertwined and used their left hands to fret the necks of each other's instruments - while Heath kept picking guitar strings and Wallace kept slapping bass strings. At least that's what I think I saw and I was under the influence of nothing but the band and the rockabilly chicks in the room. The setlist came from everywhere in the bands' career, including (but definitely not limited to) "Psychobilly Freakout," "400 Bucks," "Baddest of the Bad," "Jimbo Song," "Galaxy 500," "Locos Gringos Like a Party," and several songs from the latest CD, Revival.

Walking in on the middle of a Split Lip Rayfield gig was a disorienting and enjoyable experience. The show had obviously begun on time, if not early. At center stage stood SLR's bass player, Jeff Eaton, plucking an apparently strong band of rubber. Said rubber band was attached at one end to a stick of wood and at the other end, to an empty gas tank. That's right...a one-string gas-tank bass. It worked just fine and added to the band's unusual approach to bluegrass, helping to make the genre tolerable and even enjoyable for people like me with little appreciation for its traditional sound.

Keep up with the Rev at www.reverendhortonheat.com. As for Split Lip Rayfield, the place to hang is www.splitliprayfield.com.