Confession: I love Lynyrd Skynyrd. With sneaky-smart songs that frequently upended good-ole-boy shibboleths and with bluesy riffs and boogie rhythms that are virtuosic without lapsing into jam-rock self-indulgence, Skynyrd might have been the best American band of the '70s. Give or take the Modern Lovers' "Road Runner" or Toots & the Maytals' "Pressure Drop," I'd argue for "Sweet Home Alabama"as that decade's greatest single. And whenever I drop coins in a jukebox, it takes a backseat to "Gimme Three Steps."
It seems a little odd at this point that I feel at all compelled to couch this in the form of a confession, but somehow I still get a fair share of raised eyebrows when my ardor for the band comes up. It seems there are still folks out there who think of Skynyrd as a redneck cliche. And that doesn't seem to be changing much despite a recent surge in Southern rock in which Lynyrd Skynyrd clearly play the godparents role. From glorious Gretchen Wilson sporting one of the band's T-shirts for her CMA Awards performance of "Redneck Woman" to the Drive-By Truckers paying direct tribute with their Southern Rock Opera to even the utterly hopeless Kings of Leon making the combination of boogie riffs and bad facial hair hip again, Skynyrd Nation is in full force. But none of the pretenders can match the masters: The Drive-By Truckers, who match them as songwriters, could only dream of having a rhythm section as funky.
Of course, the Lynyrd Skynyrd that will play the Mud Island Amphitheatre Tuesday, October 5th, is not quite the same band responsible for albums such as Second Helping and Street Survivors. A plane crash took care of that. But that doesn't mean it won't be a good time. More-generic Southern boogie legends The Allman Brothers Band complete the bill in what is being advertised as a "Rock & Vote" concert. Am I a little concerned about who they might want you to vote for? You'd better believe it.
Another get-out-the-vote show in town this week has a more practical purpose: With the registration deadline Saturday, October 2nd, some good folks will be conducting last-minute registrations at Mélange late-night on Friday, October 1st, as part of a voter-registration party dubbed "Sleep Over." The event kicks off at 10 p.m. at the Cooper-Young restaurant and bar, with attendees encouraged to come in pajama-party attire. In addition to voter registration, Twister games and screenings of classic teen flicks are on the agenda. Providing the music is The Memphis Feel-Harmonic DJ Symphony Orchestra, featuring I-Witnesse, Mark DuWellington, Carlos Esquire, and Editeasy Da Breezy. Also on hand will be hip-hop group The Godfreys (formerly Dysfunktional Homestead). -- Chris Herrington
Twenty years ago, God said, "Let there be The Melvins." And there were the Melvins. And if you like having blisters on your ear canals, it was a good thing. Having gone through nearly a dozen bass players -- including a series of guest appearances by Gene Simmons of KISS -- the Melvins bio reads like something out of This Is Spinal Tap. Like their sonic kinsmen Ween, Buzzo and the boys blend their earth-cracking guitar riffs with heavy doses of silliness, and it's almost impossible to tell when (or if) they are being serious. The Melvins will once again test the limits of human ears at the New Daisy Theatre on Saturday, October 2nd.
The Reverend Horton Heat hasn't quite been on the road for 20 years, but he's getting close. His most recent recording -- Revival -- is less "psycho" and more "billy" than anything the Reverend has done to date. When it swings, it sounds less like vintage recordings than the dearly departed Ray Condo, with hot mid-century guitar leads replacing Condo's squawking sax. But out-front Gene Krupa-style drumming aside, this record isn't about tricking all the former swing-kids back into their zoot suits. Revival is pure rockabilly goodness played by a journeyman rocker who never lost the pulse of early rock-and-roll. Though the Reverend has a reputation for zaniness, tracks like "Someone in Heaven" (written after the death of his mother) and "(Heroin Killed) My Indigo Friend" are a far cry from the days when he was merely content to sing about the joys of a well-grilled steak. The Reverend will bring his rockabilly gospel to Young Avenue Deli Saturday, October 2nd. • --