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August 31, 1999

Roots, Rock, Reggae

Cross the Tower of Power with the Grateful Dead and the result is the Knoxville, Tennessee octet, Gran Torino. Mobile music fans are familiar with the band due to their appearance at Bayfest 1998 and have depleted the supply of Gran Torino discs at local music stores, and deservedly so. Face it, for dynamic punch, horns (particularly the Gran Torino combination of trumpet, trombone and saxophone) rule the music world. Nothing sets toes tapping, feet dancing and hips shaking like a horn driven groove. Notable standouts in the bandís debut CD, ONE, include "When I Grow Up" with its speaker shaking bass intro, and a tribute to funk master Stevie Wonder, "Stevland." Look for Gran Torino on stage at the University of South Alabama Mitchell Center Sunday, September 19. Based on the rocking good times laid down on their debut disc, this band has a bright future.

-- Dan Herman

Summer, as usual, is a slow period for shows in Mobile. Most of the clubs in town survive off a lean diet of cover bands and jam bands. Last week, however, Southside Music Hall welcomed Marky Ramone and the Intruders to town for a Wednesday show. Mobileís favorite cock-rock band, The Hormones, opened up for a crowd of about 80 people anxious to see the drummer of the legendary Ramonesí new band. Despite a bit of a beer paunch, Marky seemed more than able to provide an incredible back beat for his fresh musical recruits from New York on guitars. Iíve always believed him to be the most stable and best musician in the disbanded (for the time being) Ramones.

Another show, I am sorry missed, took place at Sluggos in Pensacola recently. Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and his band, The Knock-Down Society, put on an incredible show I heard, playing into the early Tuesday morning. Half of the show featured an electric set with The North Mississippi All-Stars accompanying Jimbo, while the second half featured The Knock-Down Society doing an acoustic set that included many obscure Delta blues interpretations.

Hopefully, by next issue, we can report on some interesting shows. Things look a little dry in Mobile but September will see such bands as Godspeed You Black Emperor, Low, Elvis Costello, and Sonny Rollins playing in New Orleans.

-- Chuck Cox

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