Originally published in Through the Lens Magazine on April 30, 2016
Article and photos by Melodie Yvonne Ramey
LAFAYETTE, IN – The crowd filling up the Lafayette Theater was every bit as beautifully eclectic as the legendary band they were all there to see. The fans came from all walks of life, from heavy metal to honky tonk, from goth to rockabilly. All genres were represented, but no matter the style a huge smile was in fashion for all because they were all there for the same thing. It was a love for true musical genius that brought the people through the doors, and soon Reverend Horton Heat would satisfy their yearning.
Lucky Tubb & the Modern Day Troubadours started the evening off. The band is made up of Lucky Tubb on vocals & guitar, Brent Hazard on upright bass & vocals, Sam Whips on lead guitar, and Dan Johnson on steel guitar. Their style is evocative of the raw, original country and honky tonk of the earliest Nashville artists. It was easy to hear their influences in their classic style as the air filled with sounds reminiscent of Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and all the other greats. The nostalgic melodies poured out of the theater doors inviting more and more music lovers inside.
Nashville Pussy recharged the room after a short intermission with an electrified metal fury. The band consists of Jeremy Thompson on drums, Ruyter Suys on lead guitar, Blaine Cartwright on vocals & guitar and, Bonnie Buitrago on bass. They absolutely personify the term “sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll”, and they shove it down the throats of their eager fans with an electrified wide metal spoon. Their self proclaimed genre is Dirty Rock and Roll, and they delivered that and more to the audience. At the end of Nashville Pussy’s set the crowd walked away from the dance floor wired and eagerly chattering about the amazing performance.
Finally it was time for Reverend Horton Heat to appear, and they did so to a soundtrack of screaming fans all no longer able to contain their excitement after being brought to near climax by Nashville Pussy. The Rev exploded on stage much like on the scene in 1985. They began by playing gigs around their hometown of Dallas, Texas, and mixing elements of surf, country, punk, big band and rockabilly to create their own genre. They continue to gain support from the underground scene, and acquire new fans everywhere they go with their incredible rockabilly charm and contagious energy. Reverend Horton Heat is made up of Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath on guitar and lead vocals, Jimbo Wallace on upright bass, and Scott Churilla on drums, and each one of these phenomenal men is a prodigy in his own right. Together they bring an electrified honky tonk heat to their music that is unsurpassed by any others. They astonished every fan in the theater’s congregation with not only their ever growing expertise, but also an occasional trick or two like Churilla’s Houdini-esque handling of his sticks and The Rev’s moment atop the newly horizontal bass still being masterfully played by Jimbo. They blew away the crowd with a traditional “Psychobilly Freakout“, took them on a trip in their “Galaxy 500“, and even gifted them with a phenomenal punkabilly rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” to honor Heath’s love for true blue honky tonk.
Unknown Hinson joined Reverend Horton Heat on stage looking somewhat like a country and western-tinged psychobilly Dracula. It’s possible some of the audience was already in love with his white-trash persona and freewheeling, sleazy tone as the voice of Early Cuyler on the Adult Swim cartoon series Squidbillies, but even if they weren’t they would be ensnared before they left the theater that night. Many might make the mistake of brushing Unknown Hinson off as a novelty act, but the true music fans in the crowd that night knew real talent when his notes floated to them from off the stage. Another little listener’s treat manifested toward the end of the night as well when The Rev and Unknown Hinson were joined by Lucky Tubb on vocals and Brent Hazard on bass for a beautiful shiny cherry on top of their manmade musical sundae.
Although the two opening acts were vastly different genres somehow every single person in the crowd remained extraordinarily pleased throughout the night. That is the magical thing about the great Reverend Horton Heat. They threw out the rules long before it was “cool”, and turned the music world on it’s head. Somehow they were smart enough to figure out that punks, metal heads, and country boys all party the same underneath. This spectacular night in Lafayette, Indiana is just one more perfect display of how music can unite the world one concert at a time.
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