Southern CultUre On The Skids :: 07.04.04 :: The Casbah :: Hamilton, ON

Southern Culture on the Skids by Ron Keith
Throughout the week approaching the Southern Culture on the Skids show in Hamilton, Ontario on the Fourth of July, friends continually pushed me to go, guaranteeing rowdiness, a raucous stage show, and some of the most entertaining rockabilly music this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Heck, I was even briefed on the fact the band regularly throws fried chicken at their audience in an almost ritualistic fashion to commemorate their anthemic country number "Eight Piece Box." With almost a dozen recommendations and promises of getting pelted with the Colonel's finest, I finally gave in that Sunday afternoon and decided to happily spend my Fourth with Chapel Hill, NC's eclectic, eccentric rednecks.

The first thing I can attest to is that yes indeed, I was pelted with a healthy dosage of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and even though I am a strict vegetarian, I enjoyed every second of it.

Dan Hartman by Ron Keith
That is because Southern Culture on the Skids are a group of veteran musicians that not only accept the mainstream view of lower class southern culture, but embrace it. They even exploit it comically in a way that borders the offensive, but never crosses the line from hilarity to obscenity. Consisting of lead guitarist and vocalist Reverend Rick, bassist and vocalist Mary Huff, drummer Dan Hartman and another rhythm guitar player to compliment the Reverend's fast and high energy rockabilly twang, SCOTS ran threw a upbeat 90-minute set that stretched the far reaches of rockabilly to encapsulate strong influences of Dick Dale's patented surf rock, Stooges-esque garage rock and even some of Bill Monroe's Kentucky bluegrass. Every tune the band treated the half-capacity crowd to was upbeat--deliciously catchy and outrageously funny, continually marinating the working class Hamilton crowd in a southern slop of high energy, twangy, sweaty rockabilly 'n' roll.

Mary Huff by Ron Keith
While the musicianship of the quartet was more than satisfactory throughout the set, it was primarily their words that drew me to their sound, how they twisted cultural stereotypes to poke fun at Deep South culture in their lyrics and stage presence. All three male members were dressed more like they were going out to ride a tractor rather than play a show, and Mary Huff wore a '50s-style wig amidst an old fashioned art deco skirt that fit perfectly with the theme of the evening. In addition, songs like "Liquored Up and Lacquered Down," "Swamp Fox," and the aforementioned, unforgettable fried chicken anthem "Eight Piece Box" were perfect examples of how Southern Culture take their own culturally regional idioms and twist them in such a way make fun of themselves in a healthy, wildly entertaining fashion. Throughout the night, I kept closing my eyes and imagining I was sitting on a front porch in rural North Carolina, sipping on a XXX jug while soaking up an eclectic array of rockabilly, surf music, garage rock, and old-time bluegrass. Luckily I opened my eyes just in time to avoid the drumsticks that were being flung across the bar.

While I wouldn't want to see the band on a weekly basis, they are most definitely a welcome treat every few months and the perfect entrée on a night when all that's needed is a positive atmosphere, an entertaining soundtrack, and some whole-hearted laughs. Along with that, I cannot think of a better band to spend the Fourth of July with. Next time I'll be the persistent friend encouraging others to go, because once in a while, a little Southern Culture is exactly what the Colonel ordered.

Shain Shapiro
JamBase | Canada
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[Published on: 7/12/04]

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