The 2001 RFT Slammies

Homeboy superstar Nelly tops the list of readers' favorite local musicians

Best Rockabilly/Surf/Instrumental Band -- Trip Daddys
Here's to a band that gives the audience more than it expects.

The Trip Daddys could just cruise along on autopilot and still be popular with the rockabilly crowd. They've got the moves down cold, from their perfect hair and pegged trousers to their almost instinctive understanding of primitive rock & roll. They look and sound like something out of High School Confidential, and for most rockabilly fans that would be enough.

But they don't just go through the motions. The grease-slicked dragstrip comes to life in any club brave enough to host the Daddys. When these cats growl like dogs, all the rockabilly clichés suddenly mean something again. Wild? Scorching? Hellbent? You got it, Dad, and you better set it down before it singes you.

The secret is Craig Straubinger's guitar, which isn't much of a secret if you've ever seen him play. He's not shy about making a little noise with that thing, and he rocks in the right amounts in the right places. Most of the time, his solos are fast and furious, his left hand zooming over the fretboard like a souped-up T-Bird. But Straubinger can also handle the mid-tempo country stuff, a stylistic region where lesser rockabilly bands often stumble. And all his solos are interesting and expressive -- again, in sharp contrast to the rock-by-numbers of the rockabilly pretenders.

The rhythm section never falters, keeping things quick and snappy while staying out of Straubinger's way. As for vocals, mostly by Straubinger but occasionally by bassist Jamey Almond, there's enough backwoods grunt here to convince anybody of the Daddys' sleazy, greasy, lowdown credentials.

And just when you think you've got a handle on 'em, they take it even further. Their Slammies Showcase set was already pretty hot when they stunned the Duck Room audience with an extended meltdown that rocked way too hard to be called a jam. While the low-end guys chugged along, Straubinger played a ridiculously cool-sounding solo -- or, rather, several solos all at once, throwing his body around in gyrations that echoed the soaring trash he was playing. He swung from whacked-out chords way up on the neck to catchy little lead phrases and wound up on his back in the middle of the beer-soaked cement floor. It didn't recall the Blue Caps as much as the MC5, and it even verged on some weird kind of avant-garde hillbilly rock.

That's why, of all the rockabilly bands in town, the Trip Daddys get the most attention from people outside the rockabilly scene. They rock for the pompadoured kids first and foremost, make no mistake, but they do it well enough for music lovers of any kind to enjoy the fun.
-- Jason Toon

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