Cain’s Ballroom played host to one of it’s most regular guests Friday night, as Reverend Horton Heat hit the stage and amazed and delighted the near capacity crowd.
The Rev welcomed special guest Deadbolt, three piece unit from San Diego, CA along for the tour. The night was set for an old school, rockabilly/psychobilly/surf sound that would start a party and keep it going all night long.
What is cool about a RHH show is the different people you see. It truly is a mingling of all walks of life. Young and old, punks, surfs, preps, metal heads, fresh off the street folks and of course rockabilly’s and pin-up girls. This is a show that crosses many different genres and that is exactly the way that Reverend Horton Heat likes it.
Deadbolt takes to the stage with lead guitarist/vocalist, Harley Davidson (yes you read that right). He takes out a crow bar and a small hand held grinder and begins showering the stage with sparks, as his band-mates emerge and cleansed themselves in the sparks. The drummer even opened his mouth and took some in. Not sure it would have been my choice but hey, to each his own.
Deadbolt calls their brand of music Voodoobilly, I am not sure what that means, but if it means take a dose of Dick Dale surf music, add a dash of Stray Cats style stand up drums, and top it with CW McCall style storytelling, this must be the result. It is a very entertaining mix of music, a little redundant in that all the songs kind of run together. There are some bits of humor woven in throughout the same sounds. At one point a rubber snake is brought out and wrangled by the drummer who then milks the snakes venom into the bass players beer. They also ham it up a bit with the Aqua Net can, making sure each band member has a robust and finely groomed pseudo-pomp hair style.
Lyrically, it is trucker style story telling. Stand out tunes for Deabolt were "Truck Drivin’ SOB" and "Who The Hell is Mrs. Valdez?" both of which had overtones of humor and low-ball insanity. Again, Deadbolt is entertaining, but not about to start a musical genre of their own. Want to have a good time and listen to some decent music, then crack open a PBR, drop the tailgate, get your shotgun out to clean and have at it with Deadbolt. One last note, I did meet these guys after their set and they are just fun loving guys. Plus, the bassist had a really cool and functional beer holder on his belt.
During the set break the old ballroom really filled up. It is amazing how someone who plays here so much can still pack the place out no matter how often it is. This is a testament to the showmanship and access of Reverend Horton Heat. They may be up on the stage playing music, but they really come across as guys you could hang out with and throw back a cold one.
The lights drop and here comes the threesome we are here to see. Jim Heath (The Good Reverend) dressed in his now legendary black blazer with flames running up the sleeves and back. Jimbo Wallace (Upright Bass) in his shop shirt and Chuck Taylor’s and Paul Simmons (Drums) in a t-shirt and ball cap. It is an interesting grouping to say the least, but one that has found a way to put out quality music for quite some time now.
The show starts out with a bang as The Rev buckle us in for a night that will span the bulk of their career, "Reverend Horton Heat’s Big Blue Car" opens. After playing a few of the older classics, including "Galaxy 500" which probably has the greatest vocal yell in rock, Heath comments that while driving into Tulsa he notice several people had their Christmas lights still up and wonder, "When are you going to take those down, Valentine’s Day? Well in the spirit of this we will be forced to do some Christmas songs." What follows is an incredible instrumental version of "What Child Is This?" and a cover of Chuck Berry’s "Run, Run Rudolph" in which Jim and Jimbo swap instruments.
The crowd is into the songs, some people are a little overzealous it would appear as security has to break up a few scuffles and during one break between songs Jim Heath speaks to someone in the crowd and states, "You know, you are a big ‘slang!’ (You may be able to fill in what was said) They ought to throw you outta here!" Not stopping there he then points out to security who it is and they wrangle the heckler and remove him. I said to Kevin Pyle, "Wow! That dude just got called a ‘slang’ by the Rev! This guy kills me!" We both have a good laugh and get back into the set.
RHH play through some songs off the new album, "Laughin’ and Cryin’ with the Reverend Horton Heat." These include "Please Don’t Take Your Baby to the Liquor Store" and "Ain’t No Saguaros in Texas" which is preceded by a botany lesson that saguaro cactus actually don’t grow in Texas, even though the state seems to use them as an identifier with the Texas southwest.
The boys are full of energy and pull out all the stops to make sure each person gets their money’s worth. With a Rev show it is easy to do, they put everything they have into performing and it seems even more-so when they are at the Cain’s. With a set-list that had some 25 songs on it, it was a great night of entertainment and fun.
Makes me wonder, have the people at the Cain’s ever thought about putting out a live CD of RHH? I am guessing it may be a big seller. Just saying.
About the writer:
Ernie Osborn is a California transplant that has been around the music business much of his life. He has been in bands and currently plays guitar and sings when called upon to do so. He also writes articles in the Tulsa Speaks section enititled, "Whatever Happened To…" check it out.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle