Reverend Horton Heat

Reverend Horton Heat

Undeniably, The Reverend Horton Heat, aka Jim Heath, is the biggest, baddest, grittiest, greasiest, greatest rocker that ever piled his hair up and pounded the drinks down. Without question, for all of his outlandish antics, blistering stage performances and legendary musical prowess, the one thing The Rev always gets asked about is the story behind his unusual and rather clerical moniker. "Well, there used to be this guy who ran this place in Deep Ellum, Texas who used to call me Horton- my last name is Heath," says The Rev. "Anyway, this guy hired me and right before the show he goes, 'Your stage name should be Reverend Horton Heat! Your music is like gospel' and I thought it was pretty ridiculous. So I'm up there playing and after the first few songs, people are saying, 'Yeah, Reverend!' What's really funny is that this guy gave up the bar business, and actually became a preacher! Now he comes to our shows and says, 'Jim, you really should drop this whole Reverend thing.'"

It's been an almost 20-year journey for Heath, whose country-flavored punkabilly and onstage antics have brought him and his band a strikingly diverse fan base and a devoted cult following, not to mention the respect of fellow musicians worldwide. Revival, the band's first release for Yep Roc Records, is a return to Heath's roots - musical and geographical.

The album was recorded at Last Beat Studio in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas, just a block from where The Rev played his first gig and next door to where the group currently rehearses. Along with eating a lot of world-class Mexican food and BBQ, the band recorded the album's 15 tracks with a minimum of overdubs, bells and whistles. With tour manager/engineer Dave Allen at the board, they wanted an album they could duplicate live.

"I got this lick called the 'hurricane,' and I call back on the hurricane on this album for the sake of keeping things really rockin," he says. (The "hurricane" is a trademark lick where The Rev plays lead and rhythm guitar simultaneously to give the trio its full live sound.) He's also got a top-secret lick he'll introduce on this disc. It's so top secret that he won't even divulge the name, but listen up for it! Lyrically, the album's themes run "from death to silliness," says The Rev, who lost his mother earlier this year. "I'd been going through so much stuff, losing my mom so quickly, new baby, touring, getting back and having to work," he says of making the album. Revival finds the Rev dealing with these issues and more: The track "Someone in Heaven" is written for his mother, while "Indigo Friends" deals with a friend's heroin addiction. But the album's themes aren't only dark and/or serious: "Calling in Twisted" is about calling in sick to work and "using the fake cough," "Rumble Strip" is a truck drivin song and "If it Ain't got Rhythm", "that's a really fun one to play," says the Rev "it is classic RHH. And "Party Mad" is pretty self-explanatory.

Reunited with legendary producer/engineer Ed Stasium, who mixed the album, Revival is a 40-plus minute slab of rockabilly, blues, R&B that shows an artist - and a band - in their prime. It's true that the Reverend Horton Heat have been called a great many things over the course of their storied career: Perpetual Carriers Of The Rockabilly Flame, Genre-Shattering Shit-Starters, Filthy Drunks, and The Most Electrifying Live Act In America (150 shows every year can't be wrong) among them.

"I think it's cool we've lasted this long," says The Rev. "People still come out to see us play after all these years and all the shows and tours. It's amazing. I mean, I get to sing songs about cars I love, drinking and chasing girls. Beats the hell out of the alternative."

Wayne The Train Hancock

Wayne Hancock has been called "the master of hillbilly swing," a "roots Renaissance man," a "country singer's country singer" and "Hank Williams meets Gershwin." But the phrase most frequently echoed throughout his career is "Wayne Hancock is the real deal." Joe Ely said it, Hank Williams III said it, Bobby Koefer from the Texas Playboys said it, as have countless music fans and writers when referring to Hancock's authentic and original blend of honky tonk, western swing, blues and big band that he calls "juke joint swing!"

Authenticity and sincerity have been the cornerstones of Hancock's writing and music since the start of his career. His refusal to compromise his vision and sell out his music has earned him a fiercely loyal underground following. Hancock's vision, as he puts it, is "to bring people together and make them feel good about music. It's a spiritual thing and without spirituality, you've got nothin'. There ain't much on the radio that strikes me as being original or from the heart, most of it's from the pocketbook and it shows."

Wayne is proud of his rural roots and culture and has thoroughly absorbed the spirit of country music's forefathers such as Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers. Never a mere imitator, the cutting-edge style that emerges is every bit his own. He breathes youth and driving energy into traditional country forms and adds a dash of big band horns, boogie woogie piano, scorching rockabilly beats, heavenly Hawaiian steel licks and some wigged-out hillbilly jazz guitar.

Hancock figures he started writing songs around the age of twelve, and he did a lot of travelling around Texas, playing juke joints and belting out his originals for anyone who'd listen. At 18, he won the "Wrangler Country Showdown" but couldn't claim the prize because he'd already enrolled in the Marines. After a six-year hitch with Uncle Sam, he moved to Austin, where he reacquainted himself with music and won a role in the 1994 theatrical production of Chippy. He performed alongside Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely and Robert Earl Keen and Rolling Stone proclaimed, "The nasal honky-tonk of newcomer Wayne Hancock practically steals the show."

In 1995 Wayne debuted with Thunderstorms and Neon Signs, a remarkable CD produced by steel guitar legend Lloyd Maines (Joe Ely, Wilco and Richard Buckner). The release was met with critical acclaim. Newsweek called it "the most promising debut of the season." Two-hundred-fifty dates throughout the country, including brilliant performances on Austin City Limits and NPR's Prairie Home Companion, led to well over 22,000 copies sold of his debut release on a tiny independent Texas label.

In 1997, Wayne signed with ARK 21, an eclectic and well-anchored label owned by former Police manager Miles Copeland. Miles and his staff were impressed with Wayne's genuine ability for writing and performing and have dubbed him "arguably the hardest-working man in show business" for his willingness to tour solidly and his insistence on efficiency and untainted live energy in the studio. That's What Daddy Wants, Hancock's sophomore release, was recorded in a startling three days. A brilliant example of his Texas swing and juke joint rockabilly, the album was even a staple on the space shuttle Columbia, the bugle call of its title track used to wake the astronauts. After That's What Daddy Wants generated even more critical success than the first release, ARK 21 decided to reissue Thunderstorms and Neon Signs on their label.

The past several years have been a time of personal evolution and growth in Wayne's life. He was self-managed since the beginning of 1998 and later that year he lost his father to cancer.He has still been gigging solidly throughout the country and has been doing his own driving, tour managing and taking care of business in exactly his own way.

Dex Romweber

BORN THE 7th SON OF A COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER in 1966, Dexter Romweber has grown up to become nothing less than an icon of the American music underground.

Former frontman for the world famous psycho-surf-rockabilly-garage-punk combo Flat Duo Jets, Dexter released his first of fifteen albums in 1990 to rave reviews worldwide. He starred alongside R.E.M. and The B-52s in the 1987 cult classic film Athens, Ga. Inside Out. His first national tour in 1990 was as opening act for The Cramps. He was showcased on MTV's The Cutting Edge and 120 Minutes, appeared with the Flat Duo Jets in videos such as "Wild Wild Lover" and "Radioactive Man", made a stunning performance on Late Night with David Letterman, and has shared the stage with dozens of rock's underground kings including Iggy Pop, the White Stripes, AntiSeen, Reverend Horton Heat and many, many others.

Dexter's unique blend of rockabilly, swing, surf instrumental, and punk lounge has influenced and launched an entire generation of bands. Be sure to read Jeff Arndt's excellent interview with Dexter that appears on the "Perfect Sounds Forever" site: "Beyond The Flat Duo Jets". Reviewer Michael Stephens has also written an insightful profile of Dexter for the Pop Matters web site.

The Dex Romweber Duo also features Dex's celebrated sibling Sara Romweber (Mitch Easter, Lets Active, Snatches of Pink) on drums. Together they have been performing electrifying concerts all over the US and Europe, touring with Cat Power, Southern Culture On The Skids, Legendary Shack Shakers and Neko Case.

Dex is the subject of a new documentary movie, Two-Headed Cow, which chronicles his legendary career. The movie includes testimonials by Jack White, Neko Case, Cat Power and Exene Cervenka amongst others, all of whom cite Dex as a major personal influence. An accompanying CD, featuring these guest stars, is currently in the works.

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Reverend Horton Heat with Wayne The Train Hancock, Dex Romweber

Wednesday, October 30 · Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM at Tremont Music Hall