By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Houston El Mover
Say what you will about Joe King Carrasco, but he's responsible for two enduring rock 'n' roll memories. The first was years ago, during the heyday of Austin punk, at Duke's Royal Coach Inn. It was a red-hot night, both for the performer and the un-air-conditioned crowd. At the height of his Farfisa-driven, Tex-Mex nuevo wavo frenzy, Carrasco leapt upon a long row of tables and began to boogie down their length, furiously playing his guitar. His heavy-duty guitar cord, custom-made for such antics and well over a hundred feet long, trailed out behind him, knocking over beer bottles and ashtrays, leaving a trail of broken glass and spilt brew cascading among yelping, swearing patrons who parted like the Red Sea, albeit behind him.
The second was 10 years later, at Poor David's Pub on Lower Greenville. Carrasco had been playing his heart out to about 50 people total--about a sixth of the crowd that long-ago night--and he simply would not let up, darting about the house, jumping up on tables--wireless technology having long ago liberated the crowd from the threat of excessive cordage--and finally getting them on their feet. The show ended with JKC atop a banister, sparklers stuck in his cheesy Imperial Margarine crown, as he did his long-ago hit "Party Party Weekend" for perhaps a dozen folks.
Blind determination? That's showbiz, folks, and Carrasco goes about the biz of his show with a determination--and yes, a joy--that can rouse the most indolent house, harkening back to a day when norteno and surf music were still undiscovered treasures and Mexican wrestlers' masks were cool oddities, not stagey additions to hide the fact that you're really doing nothing new. For every cover charge Los Straitjackets collect, they should send a buck to Joe King Carrasco, the guy who bridged the gap between them and Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.
Joe King Carrasco plays Thursday, January 23, at the Copper Tank.