Southern Culture on the Skids Continental Club March 26, 2011
Finger lickin': It's not just for fried chicken anymore.
This past weekend, Southern Culture on the Skids packed up the eight-piece box and headed down to Texas from Soul City, N.C., as they've done each spring for the past several years. We understand Soul City is somewhere in the vicinity of hoops-mad Chapel Hill, but for our purposes it's wherever the quartet happens to set up camp.
Unlike in years past, SCOTS came to the Continental Club behind an album of all-new material, last year's The Kudzu Ranch. Stranger still, one of the new songs, "Highlife," contained a tinge of melancholy, something about as rare in the Southern Culture canon as references to William F. Buckley Sr. or Jacques Barzun. It just hung in the air for a second, so we can't be sure if it's something SCOTS layered into the song on purpose or something we read into it all by ourselves.
The only other moment that could have conceivably turned any smiles upside down came at the very end, and only by association. Given recent events, it was hard not to think of what's happening on the other side of the International Date Line when Southern Culture closed with the Louvin Brothers' "Great Atomic Power," but the performance itself was as turbocharged as the two hours that had preceded it.
On to happier subjects.
Much happier, like whirlwind parade of audience members twirling onstage during "Banana Pudding" and "Camel Walk." Or the Bo Diddley head-knocking of Kudzu's "Bone Dry Dirt." Or Aftermath's buddy turning to us as the band was working over "Greenback Fly" and remarking how they had gone "all Golden Earring," and us agreeing.
Then there was bassist Mary Huff, whose beehive was down an inch or two from years past but whose spirits weren't, owning the covers of "Nitty Gritty" and "Daddy Was a Preacher (Mama Was a Go-Go Girl)" just like always. In the nick of time, Southern Culture on the Skids reminded Aftermath - and perhaps themselves - that if you're going to fling fried chicken your fans, you better back it up with an arsenal of badass rock and roll.
And powered by bacon grease and gasoline from "Finger Lickin'" and "Voodoo Cadillac" to "Mojo Box" and "Dirt Track Date," the brothers and sisters from Soul City didn't disappoint.
Personal Bias: I haven't missed one of Southern Culture's Continental Club mini-residencies, either in Houston or Austin, since they started them a few years back, and don't plan on starting anytime soon.
The Crowd: Hula girls, rockabilly dudes, silver foxes, and lots and lots of dancing.
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Overheard In the Crowd: "Pork! Pork! Pork! Pork! Pork!" - presumably a request from the gentleman behind us for something off 1991 debut Too Much Pork for Just One Fork.
Random Notebook Dump: SCOTS opened their encore with a surf's-up cover of Nirvana's "Come As You Are."