The Reverend Horton Heat and Split Lip Rayfield blew in to town Friday night at the Cain’s Ballroom like a whirlwind. If you have never seen either of these bands the best way to describe the music is; country-fed punkabilly meets bluegrass cow-punk. These two bands brought in a very diverse crowd ready to rock and to get down to some good ole stomp your feet music.
Although this was the first time for many people to see Split Lip Rayfield live, it was evident listening to the crowd and by the t-shirts being worn that they brought quite the fan base in with them. The ballroom was a little over half filled when the guys from Wichita Kansas took the stage. Spit Lip Rayfield consists of; Eric Mardis (banjo), Wayne Gottstine (mandolin), and Jeff Eaton (bass). Eaton plays the most unusual homemade one-string bass that I am sure any of us have ever seen. This piece is so original; it even has its own name, “Stitchgiver”, built from the gas tank of a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis and a piece of hickory that’s strung with one piece of weed whacker line. It is truly a sight to see.
If you are a fan at all of bluegrass, like really good harmonies and a touch of punk, you would definitely become a fan of Split Lip Rayfield. The guys mentioned how they love coming to the Cain’s that it’s one of their favorite venues. Spit Lip Rayfield played a wide variety of their songs; to name a few were “Don’t Believe That You’re Someone”, “Ace’s High” and “All the Same.” These guys really started the night off right and they were extremely talented a hoot to watch.
Split Lip Rayfield Photos
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
Right about 9:30 and to a nearly full ballroom, the intro music begins for the Reverend Horton Heat. People start to crowd in as they take the stage and we are all ready to take the time-warp with them. The lights shine down on the Rev’s orange 50’s style flashy suit as he gives his ornery smile to the crowd. The Rev (Jim Heath – lead singer and guitar) tells us that the band is celebrating their 25 years together and will be playing songs from the beginning to current albums throughout the show. The next few fan favorites they played were “Loaded Gun”, “400 Bucks” and “Martini Time.”
The Rev then told us about the next song before playing it. The song is called “Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas”. He was saying how in movies and commercials, etc., it has always been portrayed that the saguaro cactus grows in Texas. He named off a bunch of cactus that does grow in Texas and the one that brought the most applause was the “Peyote Cactus”. Heath went on to say that the Saguaro is native to the Sonoran Dessert in Arizona. The Saguaro isn’t grown in Texas……at all; to which this song was born off of their 2009 album release “Laughin and Cryin with the Reverend Horton Heat.” Jimbo (bass player) has also come up with the “Saguaro Dance” that he showed us how to do; a good portion of the crowd was already doing it before he started in. So to that, they wailed into the song.
The Reverend Horton Heat played a few more off that album; “Please Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store” and “Drinkin’ and Smokin’ Cigarettes.” The song titles alone are hilarious, but to hear the lyrics is just plain comical. There were lots of fans dressed in the “Rockabilly” attire with mechanic shirts, Elvis style hair-do’s and girls in pencil skirts and polka-dot blouses. There seemed to be a lot more dancing going on at this show than previous ones at the Cain’s. There were moments it really felt like we went back in time to the late 50’s with the clothing, dancing and music that was all going on. Everyone was really having a good time; including the band.
Without going in too much detail, The Rev played “Cowboy Love” off their It’s Martini Time album. The Rev himself said "it’s a disgusting little song that everyone seems to like". Next they got into punkabilly mode with "Galaxy 500" which started a small pit on the dance floor. Not your typical angry one you’d see at a heavy metal show, but the guys were doing a type of ska-moshing if you will that everyone seemed to enjoy.
Reverend Horton Heat Photos
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
To finish out the night, during the encore Jim Heath introduced the band. Drummer, Paul Simmons did a crazy drum solo. He has always been known as a solid drummer, but that solo was insane! Then he went on to Jimbo Wallace who plays the stand-up bass. He is an incredibly unique and talented bass player; never a dull moment with him. Jimbo introduced James Heath as The Reverend Horton Heat and to that The Rev went in to the theme song for the TV show Dallas (The band is from Dallas, Texas). The crowd was screaming and yelling as The Rev and Jimbo stood back to back with those ornery smiles that lit up the room again. They ended the night with "Bales of Cocaine" and "Folsom Prison Blues". It was a great night and a great way to set the weekend off.