Southern Culture on the Skids

These gasoline-soaked, chicken wing-slingin', Little Debbie-sailin', banana puddin' connoisseurs and self-described "bards of downward mobility" have an annual SXSW two-day side trip to Houston. Lucky us. While there's lots of shtick in their act, these leading exporters of Raleigh-Durham trailer house chic are as powerful a trio as exists on the roots scene today; when they pull the pin on one of their Southern white trash classics like "Dirt Track Date," clubs explode and crowds go wild. They have taken a change-of-pace attitude toward their latest album, an interesting selection of golden nugget covers that they brand with their personal liquored-up and lacquered-down stamp. They absolutely nail chestnuts like Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me," Claude King's "Wolverton Mountain" and even the Kinks' alt-country classic "Muswell Hillbilly." There are no cheesy Nashville strings or ethereal synthesizers, just Mary Huff's diesel-truck bass, Rick Miller's brazen guitar tone and Dave Hartman's pile driver drumming as the trio tiptoe their way through cheese-balls like Roger Miller's "Engine Engine #9," put a bizarre twist on The Who's "Happy Jack" and just lay the whip to John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road." Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. No pit stops allowed for this one.

Southern Culture on the Skids performs Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main Street, 713-529-9899.

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William Michael Smith