Everything old

Rockabilly queen Kim Lenz moves ahead by looking backward

It would take her several stop-and-start efforts to form her first band; she had a hard time finding musicians who could play straight rockabilly, who didn't want to fuck it up with some fast-and-loud punk riffing or laid-back country shuffles. She had become a purist in short order and demanded the same out of her band. In the end, she would go through a handful of drummers, guitarists, and bassists before settling on the lineup that would record Kim Lenz and Her Jaguars. (Indeed, only drummer Robert Hamilton is a Texas boy; guitarist Mike Lester hails from Memphis, while bassist Jake Erwin comes from Oklahoma.)

Cynics will say that Lenz isn't too unlike a Joey Ramone look-alike making music out of three chords or a woman in a faded peasant dress singing Dust Bowl laments. But she's a purist, a fanatic, unabashed about her passions and unashamed of the results. And in the end, Kim Lenz and Her Jaguars and the single she released last year (featuring two tracks from the record and the never-before-heard "Bop City," originally performed by Sherry Davis at the Big D Jamboree in the 1950s) are swinging, thrilling exercises in forward-looking nostalgia, recreations of a past ignored so often, it might as well be the present.

"Writing rockabilly is like writing haiku," Lenz says. "There are boundaries, what some people might consider limitations, but there's so much you can do inside of that. I think there's so much new stuff that can be done. It's not for everyone, but for me, a good rockabilly song gives me goose bumps, makes me want to dance. It makes me feel good."

Scene, heard
He ain't exactly a rockabilly purist--imagine Gene Vincent played backward through a broken transistor-radio speaker, and you're halfway to Jon Spencer's house--but Darin Lin Wood of Fireworks has a brand-new bag. Called Cat Fur, it also features his girlfriend and Fireworks cohort Janet Walker, and it bears little resemblance to Fireworks' jailhouse rock...like, it's got a beat. You can hear the first released track from Cat Fur (a clap-along little rocker titled "Janet Irene") on the latest Dos Sensenseos fanzine compilation from Last Beat employee Chris Lewellyn, which also features contributions from Darlington, Cowboys and Indians, Bowling for Soup, Ashtray Babyhead, and more. We like rock.

Seems Pimpadelic took offense last week at our implication that the band donated, for free, their song "Out for One Thing" to the soundtrack of Burn, Hollywood, Burn. They shot over a fax and a check stub verifying that the band was indeed paid $2,500 for the use of the song in the, ah, movie. Hey, don't blame us: In various interviews and self-promoting "diary" excerpts, the film's author, Joe Eszterhas, said repeatedly that he went looking for "free music" from "unsigned talent" (Entertainment Weekly, March 6, 1998).

Send Street Beat e-mail tips, gripes, and pipe bombs to rwilonsky@dallasobserver.com

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