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The Slapstick, Gonzo Style of Five Modern-Day One-Man Bands

LINCOLN DURHAM Anything goes should have been the catchphrase for one of the most unpredictable one-man bands around, Lincoln Durham. He might throw in occasional odes to girls named Clementine and shed a little ever-loving light, but it definitely isn't in an old-fashioned gospel kind of way. He prefers a more tortured brand of roots rock.

Sure, Durham bangs a bass drum like all the other one-man bands, but he does it while grinding out stomp-rock blues on everything from a tattered-up Gibson to a homemade cigar-box guitar with some empty suitcases, beat-up mandolins, and blown-out harmonicas thrown in.

Durham is the first to admit he's more than slightly obsessed with Tom Waits. Everything Waits does confuses, frightens, intrigues and enlightens him, he says. Add to that a little Son House, Fred McDowell and of course, rooting around in attics for $50 one-stringed abominations (the cheaper the better), and the Durham sound was born.

He wasn't always such a madman on homemade scraps of musical planks, though. Born and bred in Texas and schooled in all things fiddle from a young age, Durham won the Texas State Youth Fiddle Championship at just ten years old. Throughout his teen years he graduated to a blues, folk, and roots phase, gradually creeping toward the serenading stomp-rock of the electric guitar that landed him smack dab on Ray Wylie Hubbard's radar. Hubbard twisted knobs for Durham's latest CD, The Shovels vs. The Howling Bones.

Durham dust-stomps his way across Conroe's Red Brick Tavern 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22.

JOHNNY JAILBIRD AND HIS MISDEMEANOR Johnny Janot can be found on any given night slinging ink at Santa Fe Tattoo Parlor in Beaumont. You will recognize him instantly by his waxed handlebar mustache. The good citizens of Beaumont also know him as Johnny Jailbird, where on any other given night he can be found clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, strumming a shiny axe and commencing to beat the hell out of a big-ass silver bass drum with a big-ass Edelbrock sticker affixed to it.

He's a self-taught student of what he likes to call the "jailbird style," a shaka-shaka big beat backed by a raspy voice that comes screaming through a homemade telephone mike. At live shows he might even break out a shank or throw Ramen noodles at the crowd, prison style.

It's telling that his dad is none other then Johnny Janot Sr., the late, great king of Louisiana rockabilly, where booze, blues and barking dogs rule. Get ready for intense non-stop bluesy rock with a little son-of-a-gun and I'll-be-damned thrown in at a number of local Beaumont watering holes. He's a regular at Thirsty's Cocktails, Tequila Rok and Okie Dokies. Tattoos cost extra.

 

SCOTT H. BIRAM Scott H. Biram brings his bluesy brand of one-man hijinks to Houston often, usually with his twisted sense of hillbilly pride in tow; he is a Texas boy after all. He keeps the one-man band style simple though, opting for a stompbox instead of a bass drum, and with his trusty collection of hollowed out Gibson's and one Explorer in tow, he rambles the night away sharing the encyclopedia of bluesmen covers running through his head, everyone from Blind Lemon Jefferson to Lightnin' Hopkins.

His depraved brand of onstage antics often consists of swilling whiskey until the cows come home 'Hiram Biram' style and carrying on the tradition of redneck storytelling with a little moonshine and hellraisin' thrown in. Though he swears his fuel-fed hard-liquor days are behind him, he still reeks of drunken good times with the occasional murder ballad and backwoods yodeling thrown in. You just can't take the hillbilly out of the hills, and his devoted brethren love him for it.

BOB LOG III Bob Log III likes things fast and loose, but he still manages the fine art of the balancing act nicely. His live shows are proof enough. He somehow manages to juggle anywhere from one to at least three women on his lap at once without even missing a beat. Clad in a black motorcycle helmet and shiny glittered jumpsuit, Log manages to incorporate a high-flying finger-pickin' blues style and grinding beats into a circus of a show where audience participation is key.

He straps on an extra-large Silvertone archtop for added effect. For full effect, throw in a little dizzying slide guitar, the myth of a monkey paw in place of a hand, and a setlist that includes songs like "Boob Scotch," "Clap Your Tits," and "My Shit Is Perfect" danced to by a sweaty-ass gyrating crowd.

HASIL ADKINS Hasil Adkins may be long gone but the lunatic antics of his Appalachian stomp rock legend continues to this day. As an originator of the psychobilly sound, even claiming The Cramps as big fans, he gets an honorary spot here.

He first busted into the scene in the '60s with "Chicken Walk" followed with what sounds like the demented ramblings of a madman on songs like "No More Hot Dogs," "The Hunch," and "We Got A Date."

He grew up during the early days when radios were the only form of entertainment. When guys like Hank Williams Sr. and Jimmie Rodgers came belting through, Adkins thought they where playing every instrument themselves, so that's what he did and the legend of "The Haze" was born. His brand of twisted primitive rock and roll can still be found today, and if he were alive, no doubt he'd still be frightening parental units and chasing skirts.



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