The keys of time

Red Garland played with legends and then became one. So why is he barely known in his hometown?

And on the other end of the spectrum: Centro-matic will release its second album in three months come mid-July. Will Johnson, Matt Pence, and the boys will unleash The Static vs. The Strings next month; the album follows on the heels of April's majestically gloomy Navigational. Originally, the latter album was to be titled Activator, but it is still part of a series of discs to feature four-track recordings, studio demos recorded last summer in Illinois, and outtakes from the Centro-matic debut, Redo the Stacks. Then, in September, the band's so-called "rock" record will hit stores. Fellas, two words: boxed set...

Cowboys and Indians frontman Eric Swanson is finally getting played all over this fine country's radio stations--though probably not the way he imagined it. Sure, he'd love it if someone wanted to make a hit out of "Red Hot Rhythm" off his band's 1998 gem Big Night in Cowtown. But maybe this is the second-best thing: Swanson provides the deep-and-booming voice for one of two GTE spots currently making the radio rounds, plugging the phone company's 411 national directory assistance service. (Mary Cutrufello provides the vocals for the other spot.) "They flew me to Nashville to do this jingle they had written," Swanson says. "Now, the ad's all over the place. My brother lives in Tampa, and he said he hears it all the time. I mean, it may not be big news, but it's big to me. And they said I did a good job because I enunciated my words well..."

Bedford's got one thing going for it: Mac Curtis, among the last of the real rockabillies. (There may be more to Bedford, but damned if we know about it. So, look--no offense.) Curtis knows better than anyone that rockabilly never disappeared; it just moved to England. So it's more than a little ironic that Curtis should appear on a brand-new compilation titled The Return of Rockabilly, released on the Orlando, Florida-based Beloved Recordings label. Dig this: According to the accompanying press release, "rockabilly music is destined to become the next hot music trend, following in the footsteps of ska and swing." Christ, is that a promise or a threat? The latter, most likely, considering the retro acts on this disc: England's Big Six, Australia's Slap 'N' Cats, and Rhode Island's Amazing Crowns. Rock around the schlock. Mac, you deserve better.

--R.W.

Send your deadly cocktails to Street Beat at rwilonsky@dallasobserver.com.

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