Southern Comfort 

Wednesday, Dec 2 2009

View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Nightranger: Black Crowes, Miss Kitty's White Trash Ball, Mickey Avalon"slideshow.

Whether you’re a fan of Kings of Leon or not, we don’t think it’s out of line or too soon to declare the Tennessee quartet one of the most overplayed artists of ’09 ... along with Lady Gaga, of course. It might have been hot the first couple times, but does anybody really need to hear “Sex on Fire” ever again? (All the more so if it really is about STDs! Eww.) We’re not hating on K.O.L., mind you, but after catching The Black Crowes at Club Nokia last Saturday, it was hard not to think about the Southern retro-rockers du jour, also a product of brotherly love and boozy tempestuousness. The Crowes are older, looser and decidedly more soulful, but it seems they’re done playing pop stars (while the Kings are just beginning), and Nightranger, for one, likes them better this way. Hard to believe it was 20 years ago that the Robinson kin brought their fresh, blues-drenched rock to a music scene still transitioning from hair metal to grunge. The Crowes didn’t exactly fit in, but their love of twangy Faces/Stones groovin’ was unapologetic, passionate and, most importantly, good. After a few chart hits, a celeb marriage and breakup, requisite drug problems and a hiatus prompted by problems between ever-clashing siblings Chris and Rich, they seem to be in a good place now, and their latest, Before the Frost (recorded in front of a live audience at Levon Helm’s legendary Woodstock home studio and featuring a companion disc for free download), is a rock album in the old-school sense, a collection of tunes able to hold its own alongside the ’70s classics it’s so clearly inspired by. Still, it’s onstage where B.C. really spread their wings, and Saturday’s set saw them at their jammy, jivey best, especially the dancier numbers: a weird but kinda wonderful disco cut, “I Aint Hiding” and a climactic, encore-closing cover of Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright.” Openers Truth & Salvage Co. (whom Chris produced and released on his label, Silver Arrow) warmed up the evening with a fittingly rootsy, melodic set, but they were somewhat swaggerless and the (unironic) trucker caps they sported didn’t help matters.

Truth & Salvage weren’t the worst fashion culprits at Nokia or L.A. Live that eve, however. The square was a veritable Jersey City, what with the USC vs. UCLA football game broadcast on a giant screen in the middle of it all, and the Kings pucking it across the street at Staples. (Loud, attention-hungry jocks = foul.) Just outside of the sports-fueled hoopla, however, something even louder did get our attention in a good way. We were invited to check out the Dolby Truck, a traveling surround-sound machine showing off the latest technology from the company best known for cinema audio. We’re no techie, but as a music lover, we get giddy over good sound, and Dolby seems ready to give it all, moving out of the theaters and onto home entertainment centers (and even cell phones). Check out the Dolby Web site (dolby.com) for more info and track the truck’s next L.A. stop on its Twitter page.

click to enlarge LINA LECARO - Trashy good times at the Dragonfly

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Finger-Lickin’ Good
The blogosphere is littered with Web sites smugly pontificating the un-P.C. similitude between hipsters and homeless, but after this past weekend, we think we’ve got a better style query: bohemian or bumpkin? Chris Robinson, who currently dwells in Laurel Canyon, has had the Jesus thing goin’ on for a while now, but newer acts such as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (whose upcoming Dec. 14th gig at the Mayan was being advertised on screens before the Crowes) have a similarly unwashed style sensibility, though without the countrified Skynyrd nuances. Jeff Foxworthy (or Vice mag) might know the answer to this one: Are you a redneck — or simply a rocker — if ya sport a long beard/wifebeater/bad tats and drink PBR with pride? We ogled puh-lenty of these, plus more obvious backwoodsy statements like daisy dukes, overalls, mullets, corn-cob pipes, American-flag fashion and, of course, the aforementioned trucker hats, at Miss Kitty’s White Trash Ball at the Dragonfly last Friday. The annual day-after-Thanksgiving blowout was the perfect post-holiday hap after gorging on big birds and (canned?) cranberry sauce, and some boys really worked their potbellies too. Most girls, of course, went the trashy route, channeling Britney Spears, pre–papa intervention. A trailer park–meets–Soul Train dance-off yielded some amusing fly-for-a-white-guy moves, and with the grand prize a lifelike likeness of porn star Bella Donna’s, um, hoo-hoo, things definitely got down and dirty on the floor. We decided to retreat to the area labeled “VIP section”: a dirty old mattress in a corner of the club, but we quickly realized it was just a prop when (real) security busted us for bouncing on it. So COPS.

Mickey Avalon
may not be a Southern boy (he’s Jewish from Hollywood) but his honky-tonk hustler look and dazed rap drawl sure make him seem like it. We’re used to seeing the tatted rap rat play for headband sporting hotties at clubs like Cinespace or The Roxy, but his unexpected performance a couple of weeks ago at Kress on Hollywood Boulevard was more entertaining. Friday night at a club like Kress can be a scary thing crowdwise, but it was Avalon who seemed to spook the basement disco’s bottle-serviced masses. He performed his new single, “Stroke Me” (sampling heavily from Billy Squier’s “The Stroke”), while gyrating babes did just that onstage. Avalon himself might have been a bit too gritty for the seated club gaggles, most of whom stared with mouths agape, but the sexy tune went over well with the weekend playa set on the floor (which is why he probably debuted there in the first place). He’s currently working on a full release for Interscope with pop producers Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco, and guests like Travis Barker, and it looks like Mickey might go mainstream-big next year. In the meantime, check out his Web site (mickeyavalon.com) for street leaks and sneak peeks.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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