By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
Ryan Adams -- known in these pages as the lesser half (Bryan being the better) of the fourth-most-hated men in rock -- looks just like a little bespectacled guy from Spaceballs and SCTV. Just ask John Clements, who caught Li'l Ry-Ry at a gig in Columbia not too long ago.
"He was like Rick Fucking Moranis on a guitar," says the towering Trailer Park Travoltas frontman over a glass of tonic water (John don't drink drinks no more) at Restaurant Space last Wednesday. "He kind of looks like Rick Moranis, and he had a cardboard Darth Vader onstage that he was dancing around and goosing in its cardboard ass."
But while any cinematic villain voiced by James Earl Jones is apt to have ice water in its veins, even the coolest of cucumbers would have been irked at the news that Elvis Costello had to cancel his Pageant gig due to throat problems. And so here was Clements, scrambling to make the most out of a first date with fellow musician Maggie Allison (of Barefoot Jones) that would have been absolutely perfect had Spike made it to the mic.
But Clements, a resilient bloke, manages. Maggie's vibing him, if only because it's pretty tough not to catch Clements' vibe these days. His band, the Travoltas, started as a goofy, beer-buddy project three years ago on a hay-strewn stage in Millstadt. Now they're serious, so serious that lovable drummer Kenny Williamson and his well-kempt moustache had to quit; otherwise he'd have had to leave his day job at Brown Shoe Company.
Williamson's been replaced by Dave Harris of Earl. Clements also plays in Earl, so the transition's been rather seamless. Through sheer force of shoe leather, the Travoltas have begun landing some primo gigs, including a slot opening for Marah at Off Broadway on June 13.
"We're done with the boy phase and we have to start becoming a band," says Clements of his Black Crowesian quartet. "It's a lot of trepidation."
There's another side to that coin, Mr. Clements, and we think you'll like it.
Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 314-534-1111 for more information.