Eugene Weekly : Music : 9.1.11


Reverend Brings the Heat

Making fun of the good ol’ boy lifestyle while still representing country is how the Reverend Horton Heat has made a name for himself. Psychobilly, punkabilly, rockabilly, swing, honky-tonk, the Reverend’s sounds have been called a little bit of it all. Ever play that old computer game Redneck Rampage where you indiscriminately blast through pseudo-suburban small town neighborhoods exchanging gunfire with terrifying hicks? Well, the good Reverend’s songs “Nurture My Pig” and “Wiggle Stick” are heavily featured on the game soundtrack — he’s all over the place actually, with songs appearing in Daytona 500 broadcasts and TV commercials for Boston Market. He also happens to have made the theme music for the old Johnny Bravo cartoons.

Nine albums strong and still going, the Reverend continues — he is as country and punk as you can get, if that combination is truly possible. On one hand he is the classic twanged-out tale of a man whose wife left him, took the kid and the dog (named Smokey) — on the other hand, he is remembered by many as that guy who played guitar in the stairwell of his Austin dorm building and ran sound at broke-ass warehouse parties. 

Alongside band mates Jimbo Wallace (upright bass/vocals) and Paul Simmons (drums), the Reverend has taken to creating music that pushes his vocal talents to the max. His latest album Laughin’ and Cryin’ is actually derived from his attempt to sing as if he is either on the verge of laughter or tears. With a cult following and a rip-roaring bring-it-on type of attitude, the mighty Reverend and his band are touring the country for the next three months. Look to see up-and-comers Nashville Pussy opening many of the tour dates this side of the Mississippi.

The Reverend Horton Heat plays 8 pm Wednesday, Sept. 8, at WOW Hall; $18.50 adv., $20 door. — Dante Zuñiga-West

Homegrown Ska

In Eugene, we grow musicians, and The Longshots are a home-grown Eugene ska-band with a sound combining reggae, jazz, dub, funk and punk rock. The six-piece entourage of musicians is a force to be reckoned with. Shane Connor (vocals/ guitar), Blake Hoshibata (sax) Tom Wade (guitar), Ben Hampton (bass), Eric Johnson (drums) and Justin Canfield (sax/trombone) pride themselves on sounding like “ten gorillas having a dance party in your brain” and project a lively stage show.

This band sounds like they belong raging in the background of a kick-ass skate video or playing an outdoor stage someplace warm — they can crank out dance tunes and songs that put you right into chill-mode. Years ago The Longshots would have been a perfect fit for a packed Tuesday night gig at the now-defunct Jo Federigo’s club. In that regard, as a spitfire multi-instrumental powerhouse, they kind of pick up where the local jazz/reggae/funk band Natural Progression left off. Stylistically, The Longshots are something like the Skatalites mixed with Black Square, and they are soon to be featured on EW’s upcoming Next Big Thing CD. 

The Longshots are big band music that is best served live and in your face. These guys are on a trajectory that could put them in the bigger venues of other towns soon; they are the type of openers capable of upstaging headliners if the conditions are right and spirit is with them — they are definite crowd-pleasers. The Longshots have a multifaceted sound that is as infectious as it is intoxicating and Connor’s vocals are a perfect complement to the menagerie of horns and well-proportioned guitar riffs that support him. Frequently gigging the Portland scene and all over Eugene stages, The Longshots are paying their dues as a rising local band and doing so with style. 

The Longshots play 9:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 3, at Sam Bond’s Garage; $5 — Dante Zuñiga-West 

Buttholes Surf the McDonald

The founding members of this group are probably pretty stoked if their band name offends you. They got it by accident during a time when they performed under a different name each time they took the stage.

San Antonio natives who used to publish a magazine showcasing abnormal medical ailments and sell homemade clothing screen-printed with Lee Harvey Oswald’s visage, these guys rocked the show where Kurt Cobain met Courtney Love — they opened for Dead Kennedys at the request of Jello Biafra and stalked members of R.E.M. for sport. They are the Butthole Surfers.

This is a band that mixes esoteric weirdo content and pop culture flawlessly. Well-known for the hit song “Pepper,” which blasted through every alternative rock radio station in the country during the late ‘90s, the Buttholes aren’t just a one-hit wonder phenomenon, they are a legendary freak show that made it big. One need only look at the titles of their many albums to catch how brash and strange these guys are — with names like Locus Abortion Technician, Rembrandt Pussyhorse and Independent Worm Saloon, you can’t really say they aren’t warning you up front. 

The Buttholes have content and style that resembles a lovechild of Beck Hansen (the Beck, as in “I’m a loser baby”) and the late great comedian Bill Hicks. They are brazen, talented, and so offbeat you wonder how they made it into the mainstream of American music. It is no surprise that their songs have shown up in movies as oddly popular and uncanny as they are, such as Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, or Escape from L.A.

Though the band has undergone massive personnel changes since their original formation, the oddball founding fathers Gibby Haynes (vocals/guitar/sax) and Paul Leary (guitar/vocals) remain at their posts. Complemented by King Coffey on drums and Jeff Pinkus on bass, the Buttholes are still doing what they do best, putting on outrageous stage shows that leave listeners wondering — WTF just happened?

The Butthole Surfers play 8 pm Friday, Sept. 2, at the McDonald Theatre; $25-$30. — Dante Zuñiga-West



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