Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sneakabilly Freakout!

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 6:11 PM

click to enlarge thesneaknew.JPG
Show: Unknown Hinson, psychobilly musician/vintage vampire performance artist extraordinaire, in an intimate show at Mad Art Gallery. As an extra-awesome bonus, the fine and talented ladies of the Alley Cat Revue provided a burlesque warm-up with typical wit and inventiveness.

Food: Bread pudding with bourbon sauce from Frazer's Restaurant & Lounge.

Difficulty: Thwarted! The problem, dear Brutus, was not our stars or in ourselves, but in service slower than Johnny Cash's phrasing on "Hurt." More on that in a bit, because it still makes me mad.

click to enlarge Bela Lugosi
  • Bela Lugosi
There's something that taps into deep currents of 20th-Century mythos about a man with a guitar that can raise hell itself.

Imagine Robert Johnson, feet scuffing at the Stygian Mississippi dirt by the crossroads as he waits for a man with a face always in shadow to come tune his guitar until the strings burn and snap in the air like bacon grease off cast iron.

Imagine B.B. King running back into a building burning to the ground, floor spread with flaming kerosene knocked over when two men got in a fight over a woman. Maybe nobody remembers her, but everyone knows her name. It's the name of every crying guitar King's played since that smoke-cured one he pulled out of the fire: Lucille.

Imagine a middle-aged guy in a ribbon tie, hair slicked back into a dramatic Bela Lugosi widow's peak, pasted-on sideburns, teeth blacked out in front giving brief flashes of hillbilly "fangs" when he opens his mouth wide enough, which is rare. Unknown Hinson -- named after his father, says so on his birth certificate. "Father: unknown." -- is an outrageous, Andy Kaufmanesque persona: a man who speaks unintelligibly and carries on with a big shtick.

That's the thing, though. We love the shtick. It's so ridiculous that it also taps into those other American rock 'n' roll myths about having a will, a force of personality so strong that when you pick up the guitar, when your hands form the arcane mudras of the chords and the sliding, shimmering notes, the devil stops what he's doing to listen.

Tags: ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

June 16, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation