Thursday, October 17, 2002

Reverend Horton Heat comes to the 9:30 Club on Saturday night, bringing its strange brand of 1950s rockabilly melded with 1970s punk. And an evening of this “psychobilly” promises to pound fans over the head with the band’s favorite musical themes.

“It’s still all about drugs, drinking, women and cars at least the music is. I have quieted down in my personal life,” says the Reverend, aka James Heath, on tour in Orlando, Fla. “Somehow, as a band, we continue to fly just below the radar of the whole music business. Which means we get to concentrate on being musicians, not recording artists.”

Reverend Horton Heat consisting of front man and guitarist Heath, Jimbo Wallace on upright and electric bass, and Scott Churilla on drums is on tour promoting the 100 degrees of South Texas-inspired heat that pours from its seventh album, “Lucky 7.”

“We have been doing this for a long time,” Mr. Heath says. “But the kick is still there. It is just as much fun as it always could be. I am 43 years old, and when I get up there and start playing my guitar, it’s just like I was 16 and playing ‘Chantilly Lace.’”

This album continues the Heat’s electrifying guitar riffs, bass string-slapping and rapid-fire, ham-fisted drums as it merges a bit of the godfather of garage and surf rocker Dick Dale with a dash of Carl Perkins’ storytelling blues with the frenetic sound of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and the Cramps.

The result, as preached by the Reverend Horton Heat, is strong, fun, definitely conducive to toe-tapping and should be in any music collection that includes blues, rock ‘n’ roll, metal or punk.

The Reverend stepped into the rock ‘n’ roll pulpit in the late 1980s, when it set fire to Texas roadhouses with its fast guitars and gunfire drums.

Moving into the 1990s, the Reverend Horton Heat continued to preach to its psychobilly sons, with such as “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em” and “The Full Gospel Sounds of the Reverend Horton Heat,” to an audience that appreciated post-punk and garage rock. But the band has always remained at a cult level, even after a deal with Interscope Records and a memorable appearance on “The Drew Carey Show.”

“I really like where we are at and prefer to play multiple nights at a smaller venue instead of one night at an arena,” Mr. Heath says. “At first it was disappointing when we got the major label deal and the band didn’t break as well as the label, or we, really wanted.

“But that may have been a blessing for us. Things work out for me and I am getting the opportunity to be a musician, to practice a valid art form that is not based on record sales. We tour whether we have a new CD out or not.”

And while to listen to the Reverend Horton Heat is as exhausting as it is exhilarating, to watch the group live may be life-altering.

Poet, performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson stops by Lisner Auditorium on Monday on her “Happiness” tour, to support “Laurie Anderson Live at Town Hall New York City September 19-20, 2001” an album recorded just days after the September 11 attacks.

“Happiness” presents a personal work that reflects those things that both interest and trouble the Tri-Beca New York native as an artist and a woman.

“As an artist, there are no rules as to what we are going to do, and I was disappointed in how things were going in my life and work,” says Miss Anderson, 54, on tour in St. Louis. “I have this style, and I started thinking I know what I will be doing when I am done, and I am supposed to be an experimental artist, so start experimenting.

“I began putting myself into different situations, where I would not automatically know what to do or say or act, and began to think about describing things as they are, not the way they should or could be which is quite hard to do.”

“Happiness” offers an aura of simplicity. The only performers are Miss Anderson, Skuli Sverrisson (bass), Peter Scherer (keyboards) and Jim Black (drums). They keep the audience focused on her words, the stories and the messages behind them.

The 100-minute live set reflects the intimate thoughts of the artist, including those expressed on her new “Live at Town Hall” album. The album combines new works and 10 songs from “Life on a String” (2001), including “Let X=X,” “Strange Angels,” and “O Superman”.

Miss Anderson has said, “I have feelings about many of these works, such as ‘O Superman,’ where I sing, ‘Here come the planes. They’re American planes.’ This is a song of loss, betrayal, death, technology, anger and angels. At Town Hall in New York, I was for once singing about the absolute present.”

This inner reflection on a world vastly changed brings with it new ideas for Miss Anderson to consider and new tales to tell.

“It is difficult to express things as and when they happen, and that is something I am trying to do in this ‘Happiness’ piece,” Miss Anderson says. “This particular moment, since the attacks, has been pretty hair-raising. One of the things about ‘Happiness,’ where I am at this moment and in my work, is that I am looking at things and questioning how I feel.”

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