The current garage-rock revival may not have paid commercial dividends just yet, but it's sprouting good bands all over the place. Detroit's White Stripes may be the best and most well-known of the bunch, but from New York's Mooney Suzuki to our own Reigning Sound, there are plenty of young bands giving the electric white-boy blues (and folk-rock and soul) a good name again.
One of the better outfits on this circuit has to be Cincinnati's The Greenhornes, who sounded great opening for the White Stripes here last fall at Earnestine and Hazel's. The band's consistently surging, eponymous 2001 debut confirms that their set that night was no fluke. The Greenhornes fall more in line with the archetypal Nuggets vibe than the other bands mentioned above, their mid-'60s sound balancing the rockin' thrash of the Count Five with the organ-driven blues of the Animals.
The Greenhornes will be back in town this week for a show at Young Avenue Deli on Thursday, February 7th, with locals The Tearjerkers, whose similar attitude draws inspiration from 10-years-after proto-punk heroes the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. Should be a mighty fine time.
The Blues Foundation holds its annual unsigned-band contest, the International Blues Challenge, this weekend on Beale. Preliminary rounds will take place up and down the street on Friday, February 8th, and Saturday, February 9th, with the competition finals at the New Daisy Theatre on Sunday, February 10th. Admission to the contest is $10 per night. For more information, see the Blues Foundation Web site at www.blues.org.
-- Chris Herrington
If you're dumb enough to GIVE your band a name as gimmicky as The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, you had better be talented enough to overcome it. You've simply got to know that hitching your Americana wagon to the iconic Man in Black is going to get lots of attention which you may or may not deserve. To even suggest that you might be a badder M.F. than J.C. himself will bring on full-fledged scrutiny. Fortunately for the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, they at least come close to making good on their claim. They revel in the traditional honky-tonk tropes -- truckers washing down amphetamines with black coffee, lonely jukeboxes, women who drink you dry and rob you blind -- but are at their best when walking that fine Cashesque line between classic country and early rock-and-roll. And when BSOJC frontman Mark Stewart howls, "I guess I've got to learn to love the pain" in his song "Crying Over You," it's with the urgency of an illegitimate child begging for just a scrap of recognition.
But the more I listen to BSOJC the more I think Johnny needs to have a DNA test run. If you ask me, they sound a whole lot more like Dale Watson's boys. Decide for yourself when the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash play the Young Avenue Deli on Saturday, February 9th, with The Charlie Mars Band. -- Chris Davis