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Notes From the Underground

[whitespace] Live and Legendary:
Old rockabilly never dies at Moe's, he just keeps geezin' along

WHAT IS IT ABOUT aging rockabilly guys? Young men practice the art of cool with a style as sculpted as a David made of pomade, but inevitably, if they survive and keep rocking, they seem to get really weird. Not predictably weird like old psychedelic rockers, but truly bizarre. Local boys with pompadours and a few young ladies showed up at Moe's Alley on Friday night, dutifully anachronistic and loyal to the rantings of Johnny Legend, who despite his white beard and disjointed rhyming between (and during) songs deserved the crowd's undivided attention.

A venue that traditionally draws a mixed crowd for the older and less trendy rockabilly, surf and swing shows, Moe's was no exception to its own rule on Friday, enticing those mid-aged couples who remember how to dance with the younger crowd, who practice their dips and twirls at weekly lessons. It's always a pleasure to see people dance--when they're not just vaulting each other toward walls, but synchronizing their movements in some amazing ways.

Moe's never seems to bite off more than it can chew--one or two band shows usually are drawn out over a few hours, with well-timed intermissions so the dancers and musicians are good and rested for the next round.
Arwen Curry

Thumbs Up

This is a total do-it-yourself, six-song release from the three-piece Thumbs Down, right down to the beat-up Memorex tape it's recorded on. The mix is a bit muddy, but that can't hide the fact that there are some decent tunes in sort of a Reliance vein showcased here. I heard the band recorded something like 20 songs in a day, so I have to give this low-fi rawness two carpal-tunneled wrists way up.

Insightful but not too self-absorbed lyrics come courtesy of frontman Garret Baldwin. His pop-tinged vocals remind me of the Parasites in their non-sappy moments. The well-crafted, sing-along choruses of "Selfish Nick" and "Maybe" are just plain cool. Baldwin has a flair for producing some fine, soaring guitar leads that make me want to fracture my fibula down at the half-pipe.

Bassist Adam Wallace and drummer Danny Widener keep every song gracefully cruising at warp speed. The tricky stop-start time changes, most notably on "Running Chicken," are hotter than any late-night Jerry Springer "My Grandma's a Nudist" episode. Can't wait to hear more from Thumbs Down (or maybe less of what I've been listening to lately--what do you mean Celine Dion's not a riot grrrl?). Contact Thumbs Down at 8265 Oak Ave, Ben Lomond, 95005.
Matt Koumaras


On Saturday, Siren Six, Blind Spot, Jeffries Fanclub and Punch the Clown play Palookaville (9pm, $5.25, 16 and over). On Sunday, Good Riddance plays with AFI and Ensign at the Vets Hall (6:30pm, all ages). Also this weekend, ask about the Physics and the Idle Spurs at the 320A house.

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From the February 26-March 4, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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