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The V-Roys: Another underattended Wednesday-night gig. The V-Roys had just been on tour with Steve Earle in England and had backed him up on several television appearances on the reggae classic "Johnny Too Bad." LOM's son, an aspiring guitar plunker, had been hounding me for days to take him to see them. Playing to a handful of people, Scott Miller and his band of East Tennessee hard-asses just sucked it up and rocked the joint. They drank a lot of beer too. A lot of beer. The Paladins: Dave Gonzales and his band always gave it everything they had. On this Wednesday night touring on their stellar album Ticket Home, they gave it to me and about a dozen others. True pros, they played like they were at Carnegie Hall. Funniest thing of the evening: Gonzales was hanging around the door, just waiting for some kind of crowd to build. An older guy was talking to him and I heard him ask Gonzales "Do you want to go out to the car and smoke a joint?" Gonzales declined, and immediately vanished into the safety of the dressing room.
Todd Snider & The Nervous Wrecks/Bottle Rockets: What a rocking double bill. LOM had only recently snapped to the alt-country thing. Brian Henneman and the Rockets were scruffy and unwashed; they looked like they'd come to break some people's arms, not play music. They rocked so hard we remember thinking "Why do they call this alt-country"? Snider and Will Kimbrough answered the challenge as they tore through one of Snider's classic albums, Viva Satellite. Along with the Beat Farmers/Blasters, one of the most exhilarating, rocking double bills ever. Hamell on Trial/Skeletons/Syd Straw: The last night of a month-long tour, this Sunday show drew fewer than 50 people. That didn't keep Hamell, who plays an acoustic through an amp stack that would do Jimi Hendrix proud, just blew our hair back with his breakneck picking and wiseacre New Yorker street life songs. Straw and the Skeletons were rocking the house when LOM's buddy Rich Hornbuckle began to send trays of tequila shots to the stage. This is the only time we ever heard a band say "would whoever is sending the tequila shots to the stage please stop?"