Guy playing guitar with Kentucky Fried chicken bucket on his head, he has white makeup like a mime

Weirdo well-established solo electric guitarist Buckethead could easily run for president this year. He's got gimmicks galore--let us count the ways we saw at his recent sold-out, truly standing-room-only Woodlands show:

1) The upside down KFC 36-piece bucket atop his head. This has been one of his two standard trademarks since his coming on the scene nearly a quarter-century ago. An upside down KFC 36-piece bucket? Why, that's nearly as brilliant as your own obnoxious reality TV show which appears on your presidential candidacy resume. Buckethead wouldn't fire you, though, he'd instead ask you to pile your KFC skins farther away from him--integrity of piles, you know.

2) The creepy white expressionless horror movie mask. I mean, what a pop concept the proles can relate to: Halloween 4. And how many presidential candidates don't wear a mask? Hillary's is nearly always frightening and will look good emanating like a disembodied head hovering above the White House when her post-Obama regime of pitiless tax cuts, Bismarckian cradle-to-grave welfare and progressive looting of the treasury is enacted as her husband lands The Lolita Express on any aircraft carrier he wants. At least Buckethead is shredding his bucket off as he pours forth some of the fastest lead guitar ever played--a valuable public good. But like any candidate's spew, does it mean much? Eh, it was alright Saturday night.

3) A one-man show--no other musicians! Think of it--no pouting, insecure, narcissist lead singers to deal with; no crazy drummers; no bassists with no personality--no sharing of money! Buckethead pretty much does have the sounds of a backing band thanks to his highly programmed show., his stage cluttered with every foot pedal ever invented. Not unlike how Obama early on boasted he was a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, campaign manager than his campaign managers, etc. With Buckethead, it's just him, his two head-related gimmicks, the gimmick of a one-man-band sound illusion and then there's his greatest gimmick...

4) ...the music. Ah, yes, that. The rhythm guitar of the 46-year-old Buckethead is mostly speed metal, chunky hard rock, some funk, the occasional California Van Halen pop rock groove and fiercer-sounding-than-it-is-in-reality death metal. His skittering leads reflect the style of the rhythm guitar underneath and there are many change-ups for the attention-deficited among us. For the first hour or so Buckethead's onslaught felt good, sounded very good and satisfied. Then, oh, the most charitable thing one could say is that it was sort of sound-tracky, what with no vocals ever, it made for some pretty raucous theme music. Then you realize it's exactly what he'd been doing from the moment he took the stage and then you remember that he has contributed to quite a few popular soundtracks. If that isn't politics in a nutshell, I don't know what is: meet the new soundtrack, same as the old. To quote Paul Simon, either way you look at it you lose.

So, by the second hour it got old.

Never forget one of the oft-overlooked strengths of great vintage jump blues: it is sexy as hell.
At Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza April 20, the Golden State/Lone Star Revue touched down with the super vintage guitar players Anson Funderburgh and Little Charlie Baty along with singer/harmonica-blower Mark Hummel with the crack veteran rhythm section of drummer Wes Starr and bassist RW Grigsby. These long-on-the-scene cats were hot by the second song and by the third, a Billy Boy Arnold delight, Here's My Picture, the mambo break was enough set my new store-bought wig a-fire.

When his harp breaks came, Hummel repeatedly threw his entire body-and-soul into huffing'n'puffing'n'wheezing his small hand-held instrument, cupped to his face for dear life. The hellacious blues notes howled. Funderburgh throughout played a hanging, sustained minor chord while Little Charlie repeatedly stabbed it like a mugger. I was shaking my head, thinking, these guys are this good--on the third song?

I was in awe--the passions, the slinky grooves, the sharp, sly playing, the bass and drums laying down beats danceable and sexy and tough and, well, loving as hell. Good God, no wonder Duane Allman was an admitted addict of the blues back-beat. Nothing like it under the Lawd's celestial heavens, even though it is quite devilish. What an aphrodisiac.

And they continued to awe: Mose Allison's Stop This World; a Little Walter tribute; a swell jazz/humor-tinged Sheik of Araby and then a huge, funky, lumbering, slobbering and sloppy Gatemouth Brown tune that was just the epitome of the Saturday night juke-joint rubdown between a man and a woman, rubbing loins in loping unison. Foreplay, anyone? Seeing those five play with the loving expertise and good-natured vibes not to mention chops galore, that got me hot enough.

Finally, yours truly did something he never does: went to a high school musical. That rarity being Thursday, April 28, at Franklin Heights High School. The creation? Venerable Hairspray, the John Waters campy vehicle, produced by Jim Perine who also undertook the role of the ironing-board mother Edna Turnblad (his credit noted with a ^ symbol for 'adult'). Such a sight. The kids themselves gave it everything they had and in the end got a standing ovation from this loving cynic for a trait he hasn't seen since the School of Rock performed at Lil' Brothers years ago: sheer innocence. Nicely done, young folks, and bravo.

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