Pop Rocks: Bar-B-Q Killers' movement afoot
By Steven Uhles| Columnist
Thursday, November 26, 2009

A SECOND SERVING

I first saw the Bar-B-Q Killers in 1986 or '87. Laura Carter, the Athens, Ga.-based band's charismatic lead singer, was the friend of a friend and I was part of a posse put together to see what was then a new group. They were the first act on a three-band bill.

I have no recollection of the bands that followed.

I was too young by legal standards to be seeing this band in a bar. But I'm still glad I risked arrest and the disapproving lectures my parents would have surely delivered had they been forced to post bail.

I learned a lot that night. I learned that music didn't need to be pretty. I learned that it often worked more effectively and efficiently when it wasn't. I learned that a rock band was most exhilarating when a little terrifying, and I learned that creativity trumps everything in punk rock poker.

I followed the band's ascent and decline, bought and relentlessly played the group's single album release, the dense punk-metal-noise epic Comely, and despaired, from afar, at the news that the band had split. Later I would learn that Laura had died, far from Athens, in St. Croix. She left behind a son.

Now, there's a movement afoot to release a re-mastered edition of Comely with bonus tracks. The tracks were polished at Chase Park Transduction Studio by David Barbe, whose former band, Mercyland, was a Killers compatriot. The plan is to raise $3,500 to fund the release and then forward profits to Carter's son.

I understand that not everyone (or perhaps anyone) claims the sort of epiphany experience I had all those years ago. But listen to the tracks. It's a rocking record. It deserves to be heard again.

For more on the Bar-B-Q Killers reissue project, see www.barbqkillers.com.

MIRACLE WHIP BLUES

I wasn't sure if Shameless Dave and the Miracle Whips, the house band at the long-defunct Blind Pig, was a going concern. I hadn't heard hide, hair or blues-based howl from the act in a couple of years. I felt sure that the quiet-in-public/raucous-on-stage guitar man David Bryan (Shameless to you) was still playing, but the band, I feared, had dissolved into blues oblivion.

I'm sure glad I was wrong.

I recently received a package. Inside was a nine-song album credited to Shameless Dave and his deeply funky Miracle Whips. Titled I Let My Guitar Do the Talkin' , it admittedly starts slow but picks up steam quickly.

The first track, the somewhat uninspired Howlin' at the Moon , seemed a little too much like blues by the numbers, and the mix seemed muted. The rest of the record, however, is a funky blues winner.

A blues record can be tough going. Because it's a musical form based around strict structure and call-and-response repetition, it can hamper creativity in unskilled hands. That's where Guitar succeeds. It's an incredibly creative blues record.

It shows lyrical panache, an ability to explore 12-bar style, musically, and has more than a few truly inspired guitar breaks.

It also manages to avoid the single greatest temptation faced by blues musicians -- the extended jam. There are solos and breakdowns and all the expected accoutrements of blues tunes, but each is incorporated in a smart, succinct and tasteful way.

Take, for example, the title track. It's a great tune with not one but two really beautiful guitar breaks, and it clocks in at less than three minutes. None of the tunes lasts longer than six minutes.

It's a very good record by a very good band that I am quite happy to discover I had written off too soon.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

From the Thursday, November 26, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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