Mention Seattle to the proverbial man in the street, and his associations will likely run along the lines of Starbucks, grunge, Microsoft and the Space Needle. "With-it" stuff comes to mind, those aspects of Seattle that made it America's It City from roughly 1990 to 1995.

Since then fortune's wheel has taken a few unfortunate spins for the metropolis. Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Boeing have all left for sunnier climes. Kurt Cobain abandoned this mortal coil long ago, and with him went grunge's driving force. Starbucks, once regarded as a hip hangout, is now rightly seen as the Wal-Mart of coffee shops.

From this postgrunge Seattle comes a far different band. The Dusty 45's sound more like Austin's Asylum Street Spankers than Nirvana, blending rockabilly, country, blues, jazz, swing, Dixieland and mariachi trumpet flourishes. They are a bold troupe, treading the lonely terrain where genre dissolves and originality dwells.

Guitarist/vocalist/trumpeter Billy Joe Huels should be given a wide berth at live performances, unless getting singed is your idea of fun. Not content to merely blow his golden horn, Huels has been known to fuel it up and set it alight. Also dangerous is red-hot piano man Micah Hulscher, whose 88 radiation sets fires, too, although his are purely musical. The interplay between Huels, Hulscher and second guitarist/banjoist Randy Lee Fader shifts as smoothly as the gears on a well-tuned '64 T-Bird.

While rockabilly from the sodden Pacific Northwest may not seem a natural fit, the Dusty 45's prove that one doesn't have to be from the sunny South to conjure the ghost of Carl Perkins. It reminds one that Seattle was not just the mold that grunge grew out of but also the town where Ray Charles cut his teeth.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax