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Whiskey-Punk Blues

There’s a rough and rugged synergy going on in Portland. This synergy is between two musical factions that you’d never think would combine forces. It blends the grungiest corners of the urban jungle with the “just-don’t-give-a-fuck” contigent of the Northwest backwoods. It’s jug band, it’s folk punk, rockabilly, punk blues, cowpunk and psychobilly. Call it whatever suits your fancy, ‘cause by the time the corn whiskey hits your bloodstream it’ll all blend together seamlessly. 


Bands like Devil Makes Three from Santa Cruz, Hillstomp from Portland, and Chet Weise from The Immortal Lee County Killers have helped meld influences that span from Jerry Lee Lewis and R. L. Burnside to Captain Beefhart. But perhaps no group has perfected this upbeat, raspy string twang like Portland’s Sassparilla. Dusty as hell and cranked up for your dancing convenience, the band sounds like it just hopped off a train from some far-away Southern town where harmonicas play late into the night and a jug of home-stilled moonshine on the front porch is denoted as hospitality. Sassparilla is an ether huff, a whiskey chase, an all-out assault of punk-jug slam. 


When frontman Gus Blackwell straddles the stage with a steel resonator guitar, apt fedora and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon close at hand, genres collide. 


Sassparilla plays 9 pm Friday, Jan. 20, at Sam Bond’s; $5.