Black Rose Band

One Eyed Jacks

January 27, 2007

I love blues-based music. It's not the music that I normally seek out, but when it's got me in its clutches, I feel like breaking a bottle over my head, bleeding my arm with it, pouring my beer over the cut, and finishing the sequence off with some headbanging. That doesn't happen, except for the headbanging, but it's a great rush, nonetheless.

Three of the four bands that played at One Eyed Jacks Saturday night were blues-based bands, and EVEN BETTER than the fact that they all played good music was the reality that they're helping each other get music out. All three bands I speak of are on Contaminated Records, a small Memphis-based label run by Alicja Trout, whose River City Tanlines played third at OEJ. It gets EVEN BETTER. EVEN BETTER? EVEN...BETTER. The bands like each other. Now, I've always loved to see bands working together, but unfortunately, it's been rare that bands I like do it. Trout enjoys Guitar Lightnin', who played second, Guitar Lightnin' likes the Black Rose Band, who played last, and the Black Rose Band likes River City Tanlines. I'll leave it to you to figure out the other variations on that scheme of mutual appreciation.

The only question: where's our Alicja Trout in New Orleans?

After Honky Tonk angel Kitty Lynn finished up her set of country tunes, Guitar Lightnin' Lee and his drummer Paul and slide guitarist Ted really got the party started. Lee, who is from downtown New Orleans, sat the whole time. Lee's blues were formula-based and traditional, as maybe you'd expect, but Paul leaned into his ride cymbal so much that Lee was able to carve out his own niche. There wasn't special about Lee's songwriting, but that didn't matter. What mattered is that Lee played his blues in an honest and genuine way. Besides Lee's charisma, the other thing that got the band over was Ted's finger-floaty slide playing.

Next up were The River City Tanlines, a trio from Memphis that played with the speed of punk while exhibiting the technical prowess of metal. The bass playing was above average and received its deserved spotlight a few times, but the real strength of the band remained Trout's guitar playing. She played rhythm and lead, both while thrashing about. it seemed like some kinf of demon was running through. She felt the need to run into the audience twice, and when she played a solo, it seemed like she was so caught up in adrenaline that she had no idea where her fingers would land next. Still, what came out of her amp, which hurt my ears, by the way, was beautiful--pure manic aggression transformed into steam by rock catharsis.

I love The River City Tanlines. This was my third time seeing them, and it's always lots of fun.

Last up was The Black Rose Band, whose CD release party it was. I hadn't seen them before, but I felt I need to, considering enough people had told me good things about them. If The Black Rose Band is the future of New Orleans rock, then count me in.

Like Morning 40 Federation, The Black Rose Band plays good-time, feel-good, raw, beer-soaked rock and roll. At first I thought they sounded like a late 70's, early 80's anthemic, riff-oriented group, and sure enough, the band I heard someone compare them to at the show was Thin Lizzy. Like The Black Rose Band, Thin Lizzy employed two lead guitarists.

King Louie Bankston, who leads The Black Rose Band, may not have the voice of TL's Phil Lynott, but I still think the BRB is better. They were more melodic, and while one guitarist was playing a blazing solo, the other was playing an equally awesome solo that interweaved with the first in an inexplicable way. Technically amazing.

Bankston's working class lyrics helped the crowd get down to their trucker core and let loose, eyes set on booze and sex. Bankston, like the rest of the band, had a confident rock and roll attitude goin' on. It's the reason why you should spend money on a live show before you buy their record. The record is more tame than the raucous live show.

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