The Music of True Blood, Episode 2: Austin's Vallejo Lies Down With a "Snake In the Grass"

Vallejo is a rock and roll band of the highest caliber from just a few miles away in El Campo. The band started as a trio of three brothers who moved to Austin in order to pursue their dream of being the next Santana. Once in the "live music capital of the world," they added a rhythm guitarist and a conga player to further explore their saucy Latin side, and settled down quietly to become one of the foremost acts in the city. Vallejo has since toured with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Fuel, 3 Doors Down, Juanes, Molotov, Black Crowes, Foo Fighters, Matchbox 20, Shinedown and Los Lobos. They even had an official "Vallejo Day" named for them in Austin. One of their most notable tracks - and the end-credit song from Saturday's re-run of True Blood Episode 2, "The First Taste" - is "Snake in the Grass," from Vallejo's 1998 album Beautiful Life. A true down-and-dirty ditty, it benefits from a tremendous lead guitar line and A.J.'s Placebo-like vocals. It's almost impossible not to dance to, with just enough menace to make love to.

More than that, it's just undeniably Southern. It feels like drinking Jim Beam straight from the bottle with a gun on your lap, which makes it the perfect sum-up to the deepening mystery of True Blood's first season.

Revisiting the series as it re-runs on HBO, it's wonderful to remember a time when you had to meet these slightly and not-so-slightly sinister characters. True to the episode's title, Sookie gets her first taste of being bitten by Vampire Bill in an effort to heal her from the truly horrifying beating she receives from a pair of pissed of Vamp-blood dealers who she rescued Bill from earlier.

Though Sookie is initially thankful for all the not-dying, she's much disturbed when Bill later kills her attackers in a manner that is so brutal that local law mistakes it for a freak tornado. Though she's drawn to the quiet stranger whose thoughts she can't hear (as opposed to the cacophony of psychic images that normally fill her head), she's leery of getting involved with someone who obviously has few qualms about inhuming people who annoy him.

Most snakes are perfectly harmless to humans. But then again, it pays to heed Vallejo's words and watch out. You never know what's going to bite you when you lie down with it.

Vallejo plays 10 p.m. Friday, November 6, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899 or www.continentalclub.com/Houston.html.

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