Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bittorrents Ahoy! Watermelon Slim & The Workers; Bellinzona, Switzerland 6/22/06: Mush-mouthed singer, harmonica player and guitarist Watermelon Slim leads his tight band on this gig, turning a festival in Italy into a temporary Oklahoma roadhouse, which is no mean feat. Slim used to be a truck driver, and if you believe one song, a get-away car driver as well! Slim's former occupation inspires many of his songs, starting out with the fast shuffle "Truck Driving Woman." "The Devil's Cadillac" finds Slim riding shotgun with the ol' trickster out into the fields and down to the crossroads. Slim shows what a great ambassador he is by speaking French to the Swiss crowd and telling some great stories to boot. Watermelon Slim and the Workers (great band name - too bad he didn't choose The Wobblies!) have been gaining popularity due to heavy touring and a nice debut album on Nothern Blues. This band plays the real blues... no bells, no whistles, and it's a very good thing.

The Dirtbombs; Magic Stick, Detroit MI 4/10/06: Mick Collins, the king of Motor City rock 'n' Roll, leads the most popular of his many bands on this homecoming gig before an excited audience. The Dirtbombs are one of the best bands of the garage rock resurgence, and they come blasting out of the gate with some of their great rave-ups, "Start the Party" and "Get it While You Can" before spitting out the lyrics to "Ode to a Black Man:"

There are people in the town/That try to put me down/They say I don't give a damn, damn/But the people in the town that try to put me down/Are the people in the town that could never understand a black man

As one of the few black men active in rock 'n' roll, Collins must feel those lyrics most keenly. But they never succeed in getting him down as the band blasts back with "Stuck Under My Shoe" which could be the best put-down song since Dylan's "positively 4th Street" and a little relationship therapy on "Sharpest Claws." The Dirtbombs are a truly butt-kicking live act and this concert was a most welcome download.

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