Shelby Ash Presents Big Ass Hillbilly Show No. 3 featuring the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, the Trespassers and the Harmed Brothers.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012
Better than: kissing your cousin without a condom.
The awfullest bad jokes ever, premium beer bellies, and epic moustaches. Strings on fire and pig calls to die for. Butt-bumping two-steps in polka dot Mary Janes, Saturday night plaid, and spit-shiny boots. These are the ingredients for a Big Ass Hillbilly Show, and backwoods local promoter Shelby Ash, who also runs the Music Store in West Portal, delivered as per usual Saturday night with a downhome triple-shot of much-loved Americana, two parts California country, one part Eugene, Oregon.
First, the jokes: something about tampons, worms and apples and the Holocaust, bees that make milk ("Boobies!" duh), and the worst of the worst: a groaner about Eric Clapton's kid (the one who fell out of a skyscraper window to his death). Funny stuff, ha ha... in that oh-no-you-didn't kinda way. This show felt like a not-too-drunk family picnic, so no one was offended. Not for long, anyhow.
Catching a breather outside, we sadly missed the beer belly contest (and Eugene's Harmed Brothers, who we heard put on a helluva performance). The few rotund midsections we did see shuffling around the house recalled our most vivid memories of the all-you-can-eat chowdowns one finds along the highways of the Deep South and American Midwest. It's a lifestyle choice. Sometimes it's glandular, sure. But we prefer the image of big-ass grown men going whole hog at the buffet while their kids lean away, trying to avoid being sucked into their hoover mouths. Okay, maybe that's a Family Guy episode or whatever, but you get the idea.
The mustaches and beards were supercalifragilistic, flowing in the California-pioneer tradition, waxed and curled at the ends like the immigrant sons of yore. And oh, those mustaches danced -- on stage, no less -- in a hirsute duel to the tuneful grooves of the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit. This veteran Oakdale combo came at us from deep in the pocket with their mid-tempo, hill country stomps. You wouldn't have guessed it from the opening bars of nearly every tune, but by the end of the first choruses you'd have found yourself hooked at the boot straps, rollicking heel to toe, back and forth, side to side, swept up in the barnyard dust -- you and the band all animal-like, baying at the moon, chicken feathers gathering in your wake.
There was some Outlaws-galloping Southern Rock in their sound, thankfully minus the half-hour six-string solos, and even a wide-sky country space jam, if you can imagine. Toward the end of their set, the Thrift Store fellers welcomed the other bands' members on stage for a few revival-style jams. Uncle Dodds, drummer from the Pine Box Boys, was sitting in on the trap set, so it seemed natural when PBB's lead singer Lester Raww got into the mix on a Flying V and his swampy Tuvan throat-singing thing. Yup: Tuvan. Throat. Singing. It's the kind of voice that booms from beneath your bed in the dark of night after three too many bourbon shots and a supersize po' boy slathered in smokestack lightning.
Food metaphors seem most appropriate to best capture the feeling of this show. The Trespassers, hailing from the foothills of Yosemite, conveyed frying-pan warmth in a Candy's Country Kitchen sorta way, like there's nothing so bad in this here life a grilled cheese sandwich can't fix. This chilled-out, Old West-inspired quartet presented tales of "The High Lonesome Rambler" and "Old Rotten Log," the latter tune coming on with a Sponge Bob singalong chorus that spread smiles far and wide. Of course, no California country party would be complete without an ode to sinsemilla, the people's official state flower. C'mon now: "If I had a bag of dope / I'd get high as a mountain goat." You know you would. It's all good. Grab your partner 'round the waist and swing till the stars turn to sunshine, or moonshine, whatever suits your fancy. That's how a Big Ass Hillbilly Show's supposed to go.